Duke is a brown engine on the Skarloey Railway and previously was the patriarch of the Mid-Sodor Railway.
Duke was built in Wales in 1879, the last of his class. His older siblings were Princess, Prince, Palmerston, Welsh Pony, and Little Giant. After completing his tests on the Ffestiniog Railway, he was brought to the Mid-Sodor Railway on Sodor, the first engine on the line. He was the senior member, outlasting all other engines. He was a father figure to younger engines, such as Smudger (later Bertram), Crimson, Albert, Falcon (later Sir Handel), and Stuart (later Peter Sam). The engines all respected him, except Smudger, who arrived in 1897. After ignoring Duke's attempts to reason with him, Smudger accidentally killed a passenger and was turned into a generator in 1902. Two years later, Falcon arrived. Determined not to let him suffer the same fate as Smudger, Duke tried to teach him the ways of a really useful engine. Falcon scoffed this at first, but changed his mind when Duke saved him from falling down the Arlesdale mountains after an accident. Despite the heavy weight, Duke never let go of Falcon and eventually pulled him back onto the rails. Duke was praised for his actions by the passengers and Falcon. In 1920, Stuart arrived, and he, Falcon, and Duke became close friends for the years to come. However, the war put the Mid-Sodor Railway in financial difficulty, and it closed in 1947. Stuart and Falcon were sold, but Duke was not. Instead of scrapping him, he was sheeted up and left in the shed at Arlesdale. After the railway was ripped up, the shed was abandoned. Duke lay in the shed for 22 years, often sleeping or talking to himself. The shed was buried by soil erosion, disappearing from sight. Duke was finally found in 1969, when some people looking for him accidentally fell through the shed roof. After being restored, Duke arrived on the Skarloey Railway in 1970, reuniting with Stuart and Falcon, who were now Peter Sam and Sir Handel.
Duke was also reunited with Smudger in 1929, though he did not realize it until 85 years later. Smudger was rebuilt from the generator in 1926 and sent to the Skarloey Railway. After falling off a bridge, he was restored once again into a tender engine in 1929. He had a new name, Bertram, and was sent to the Mid-Sodor Railway. Bertram was also left on the railway after it closed, and was found in an abandoned mine by Toby, 29 years after Duke's discovery. He was then brought to the Skarloey Railway, and though Duke was skeptical of him, the two minded their own business. This all changed in 2014 when Duke found out his true identity, and was enraged. He chased him around the railway while Sir Handel and Peter Sam race after him. After chasing him to the bridge, Bertram tried to commit suicide. Duke called him a coward at first, but after Sir Handel's strong words, Duke suddenly realized that his behavior was idiotic. He then apologized with Bertram, and the two are now friends again.
In 2016, he was given a surprise union with his surviving siblings.
Duke is very wise and a father-like figure. He takes no nonsense and has high expectations for the younger engines (rather, engines that have youthful personalities). Named after The Duke Of Sodor, he coaches the youthful engines based on his inspiration. Engines would then tire of his lectures, such as Albert, Smudger (Bertram), Stuart (Peter Sam), and Falcon (Sir Handel). As a result they would have to learn the hard way.
Duke is also very optimistic. After being placed in a shed, not knowing his future fate, he simply decided to go to sleep as it would "help to pass the time." He is a very cautious engine. He had encountered Bertram (now in a new design from his previous encounters), but wasn't exactly sure where or when this happened. Though not often, his anger can get very strong. This was apparent when he discovered Bertram's true identity. Because of Duke's spotless history, He had blamed Bertram for being free while Duke was locked away in the shed even though Bertram had been abandoned several times himself. However, he is a very loving engine and did forgive Bertram.
SI3D's 2006 model of Duke was used until The Search for Smudger. WildnorWester's RWS model of him was briefly used in The Sodor Garratt, as T1E2H3 planned to use this in the future. However, Seanoc17 released his 2012 model shortly before filming of Duke's Reunion and that model has been used even since.
Duke is based off of many engines on the Ffestiniog Railway. Being a male, he is likely based off of Prince.
- The Sodor Garratt
- Duke's Reunion
- A Breakthrough Discovery (does not speak, spoke in original script)
Duke only appeared in the fourth season (except in the seventh season episode Harold and the Flying Horse, where he appeared in a stock footage cameo), though his painting would appear in the fifth season episodes Bye George!, Oliver's Find, and Busy Going Backwards.
Duke's model was repainted into Bertram's for the fifth season due to financial difficulties. Between 2001 and 2002, Bertram's model was reverted back to Duke, however, a 2004 promotional image revealed his model was incorrectly painted a lighter shade of brown and his buffer beam was also painted light brown rather than red.
It is likely that when the narrow gauge models were given a larger gauge, Duke was never given a large scale model due to financial issues.
He, along with BoCo is one of the few main characters that has not returned to the series in the past 14 years.