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Recap / The Railway Series B25: "Duke the Lost Engine"

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Duke the Lost Engine is the twenty-fifth book of The Railway Series published in 1970. This book focuses on the lives of Sir Handel and Peter Sam before working on the Skarloey Railway and an older co-worker of their’s, Duke. The book contains four stories:

  • Granpuff: Sir Handel and Peter Sam recollect their time working on the Mid Sodor Railway. At the time, Sir Handel was called Falcon and Peter Sam was called Stuart. They remember working with a wise old engine named Duke. They teased him at times, calling him “Granpuff.” One day, Duke told the two engines about an American engine (referred to as Number 2) who misbehaved all the time and was rude to Duke. Duke remembered that Number 2 ended up being turned into a pumping engine (a generator) for his misbehavior and so he could finally be useful. Falcon and Stuart behaved especially well for the next little while.
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  • Bulldog: Sir Handel, back when he was known as Falcon, was assigned to go on the “Mountain Road” so as to learn the line. He was to take his train with Duke acting as a second engine for it. Duke warned Falcon to watch the track, but Falcon thought him as “a fuss-pot” and didn’t listen. With Duke right behind him, Falcon made his way up the “Mountain Road.” Duke continued to tell Falcon to watch the track, but Falcon didn’t listen. After going through a curved tunnel, Falcon found himself derailed, hanging over a cliff on the side of the track. The only thing preventing him from falling was Duke, who was holding with all his might, like a “Bulldog.” Eventually the “Breakdown Gang” arrived and helped get Falcon back on the rails.
  • You Can’t Win: One day. Duke had some troubles with his valves and had to stop. His passengers were worried his valves would burst. Falcon and Stuart came to help take the train to the station. Once there, the group split up, with Falcon taking Duke’s train while Stuart took Falcon’s train with Duke coupled behind. The two young engines thought Duke was done for and due for retirement, but Duke’s valves actually sounded worse than they really were. Duke could have continued with his train, but his driver didn’t want to worry the passengers. Duke and his driver had something else in mind. Duke managed to push the entire train on his own from behind. After the train arrived at the station, people thought that it was Stuart who had broken down and Duke had come to help thanks to the fact that he was pushing it on his own. Stuart was embarrassed. Duke chuckled and said, “It’s no good, Stuart; you can’t win!”
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  • Sleeping Beauty: Sir Handel and Peter Sam recollect when the Mid Sodor Railway closed down. They were both bought and ended up on the Skarloey Railway, but Duke was thought too old and the current Duke of Sodor was unaware that the engine fell to him so he didn’t claim him. Duke was put in his shed and stayed there for many years. The Thin Controller, the Small Controller, the Thin Clergyman, and the Fat Clergyman find out about the stories regarding Duke. They set off to find him on the Small Railway Engines. They eventually do and take him to the Skarloey Railway so he can be reunited with Sir Handel and Peter Sam.

The book contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Inverted as it's more or less the "children" who have this fear: five books back, Sir Handel and Peter Sam had received word from Duck that 'all engine Dukes were scrapped'. You gotta remember that scrapped is the engine term for killed, and Skarloey did take that as a joke. Try registering that now...
  • All There in the Manual: The Sodor history books contain some interesting trivia on the Dukes of Sodor. For a start, they're not actually Dukes, but Earls, but in Sodor tradition they're referred to as "the Duke". Duke the engine was named after the new Duke's great-great-grandfather. His father died in 1943 in North Africa, so the reason the new Duke never knew about "his engine" was because he was only three years old at the time. They are also the source of Stanley's name, as he's only known as No. 2 in this book.
  • And I Must Scream: After the Mid Sodor Railway closed down, Duke was put in his shed so his driver and fireman could go and find work. He was stuck in that shed for years until finally found again in “Sleeping Beauty.”
  • Catchphrase: Duke has "Impudent scallywags" and "That would never suit his grace."
  • Cool Old Guy: Duke. In “Bulldog,” he saved Sir Handel from falling off the side of a cliff and kept holding on until Sir Handel was safe.
  • Creator Cameo: The Thin (Awdry) and Fat (Rev. Teddy Boston) Clergymen appear again as part of the search party.
  • Darker and Edgier: Let's see: No. 2 gets killed off, Duke's left in a shed for years, Sir Handel and Peter Sam have been paranoid about it for ages, the Duke of Sodor died in the war... seems to fit the bill.
  • Doomed Hometown: The Mid Sodor Railway, where Peter Sam and Sir Handel worked before going to the Skarloey Railway, ended up being closed down, leaving the place abandoned until a segment of the right of way was repurposed as the Arlesdale Railway.
  • Jerkass: No. 2, otherwise known as Stanley.
  • Origins Episode: This explains Sir Handel's and Peter Sam's backstory and their history with Duke on the Mid Sodor line.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Duke’s story about "No. 2" being turned into a pumping engine certainly got Sir Handel and Peter Sam to behave for a while.
  • Secret Keeper: Although it was never stated outright, Sir Handel and Peter Sam were mentioned to "often talk about [Duke] when they were alone."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story:
    • The story of Stanley converted into a pumping engine comes from the real-life event when Ffestiniog locomotive Palmerston (sibling to Duke's counterpart Prince) was spared as a stationary boiler up until 1993.
    • "Bulldog" is based on what happened on the Ffestiniog Railway when Duke's counterpart Prince double-headed with an 0-4-0 tank engine (now a 2-4-0 tender engine) named Linda who derailed at what is now known as Linda's Leap.
      • The bucket brigade scene in this story is likely based on a true story that took place on the Talyllyn Railway; a documentary on the railway stated that a similar scene in The Titfield Thunderbolt was based on an incident there.
    • "Sleeping Beauty" is based on a true story about the locomotive Coronel Church discovered in the Amazon Rainforest, where it had been left abandoned for 30 years.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The first three stories focus on Sir Handel and Peter Sam recalling their early days working with Duke. The events of "Granpuff" take place in 1928 and 1947; the final illustration takes place in 1952. The events of "Bulldog" take place in 1904 (there is an error here, as Stanley is pictured in the shed, but was not built until World War I and acquired by the MSR after the war). The events of "You Can't Win!" take place between 1920 and 1936. The present-day events (The beginning of "Bulldog" and the all "Sleeping Beauty" story) take place in 1969.


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