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Book 18 - Oliver the Western Engine - 1968

Summaries by R Healy


The follow up to Enterprising Engines was a much more light-hearted affair, with the darker tones of the previous book being overlooked and replaced by gentle and humorous storylines.  Originally intended to be called "Little Western Engines", it was over-turned by the Publishers, which Awdry made open protest about in the book's foreword which he wrote as a letter to his wife, only ever noted as being M.

Donald's Duck
Duck's pride in being Great Western takes its toll on Donald, who accuses Duck of "quacking" as if he'd laid an egg one evening.  Duck is understandably hurt by this, and tells his Driver what Donald has said.
The Driver has a plan on how to get back at Donald and carries it out in the evening when Donald is sleeping!  The following morning, something pops out of Donald's water tank when he's having a drink and gives the crew a big surprise, it's a Duckling!
Donald has an enjoyable time with the Duckling before she drops off at a station and decides to stay there.  But Donald's crew have an idea of how to get back at Duck, and slip something beneath him in the night!  Duck's crew find a bird's nest, complete with eggs and all sitting beneath Duck the following morning!  Duck and Donald laugh, and Duck declares to Donald that "It'd take a clever engine to get the better of you!"
Resource & Sagacity
Oliver is made haughty by the big engines after he finds they are impressed by his adventures and remark about his "Resource" and "Sagacity".  When he is asked by the Fat Controller to handle trucks for the first time, he ignores the warnings given by Duck, Donald and Douglas.
But his over-confidence in the situation leads to his great downfall.  The trucks aren't sure of Oliver and refuse to go with him willingly, and henceforth decide to show him who's boss by forcing themselves against him and begin pushing him down into the turntable well!
Duck remarks that Oliver doesn't look so "goodgracious" as he put it any longer, and when the Fat Controller, Donald and Douglas see what has happened to the turntable, they leave him in doubt at all that he's far from being sagacious at that point!
Toad Stands By
Following his accident, Oliver is made to be the figure of fun by the trucks, who, led by their leader S.C.Ruffey, a Private owner wagon, begin singing rude songs about him around the yard.
Oliver has learnt from his mistakes and the engines do their best to support him, but despite their best efforts, the trucks continue singing rudely at him.  But Toad the Brake Van has a plan to get them to stop.  He suggests the plan to Oliver, Douglas and Duck, who, although anxious about it, decide it may just be the best course of action to take in the situation.
Oliver marshalls the trucks together into a long train with S.C.Ruffey right behind him.  The devious Private Owner wagon orders the other trucks to "hold back" so as to give Oliver a difficult time.  But little does he know that Oliver has a trick up his sleeve and with his wheels gripping the rails well enough, pulls away with all his might, and rips S.C.Ruffey in two!
The Fat Controller inspects the mess soon after, and quietly tells Oliver that S.C.Ruffey was in a poor state anyway, so what happened was inevitable!  However, the trucks don't know this, and from then on, a healthy respect was forged for Oliver in future!

On a Bank Holiday morning, Duck is unfortunate enough to encounter a rather rude double-decker bus who is intent on stealing the passengers of the Little Western, and like his road using predecessor George the Steam Roller before him, believes that railways are useless and that all engines live for is enjoyment, whilst buses are the real workers!
Oliver jokes about the rotten double-decker when he meets Duck at first, but doesn't so afterward when he has news of what Bulgy is up to!  Duck is shocked to learn that Bulgy will be trying to steal his passengers that evening, and is even more surprised when the scoundrel actually does by pretending to be a "Railway Bus"!
Duck chases after him and catches up at a bridge further up the line where Bulgy has become wedged underneath.  The passengers are cross with Bulgy, but relieved to see Duck who will be able to take them home again.  Duck carefully manouvres himself across the bridge, much to Bulgy's dislike, and with the help of Alice and Mirabel, gets the passengers to the big station.
Bulgy gets his just deserts in the end however!  The villainous bus isn't repaired and instead is laid to rest in a field close to the line where he is used as a hen-house instead, where his lies can do no harm!

Oliver the Western Engine

Audiobook - Read By Willie Rushton

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