- "I'm a plain, blunt engine; I speak as I find! Tunnels should be tunnels and not rabbit holes! This railway is no good at all!"
- — Duncan, Home at Last, fourth season
Duncan is a Scottish narrow gauge tank engine who came to the Skarloey Railway as a spare engine after Peter Sam's accident with some slate trucks.
Bio in the Railway Series
Duncan was built by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. at their Caledonia Works in Kilmarnock, Scotland and worked in a factory in Scotland, which Peter Sam claims is the source of his strong language and volatile temper.
In 1958, Duncan was bought secondhand to Sodor as a spare engine, as the workload was too much for Sir Handel and Peter Sam to manage unassisted. He came soon after Peter Sam's accident with the slate trucks and was re-gauged to 2ft 3in. Duncan was rude and arrogant at first. However, following accidents involving the tunnel and a worn stretch of track south of Cros-ny-Cuirn, he began to see sense and made up his feud with Rusty, whom he had detested for being a diesel.
He was still selfish and prone to temper tantrums and actually stalled on Rheneas Viaduct on the claims that he was overworked and not polished enough. Skarloey, fed up with his careless attitude, finally taught him sense with the story of Rheneas' single handed running of the railway and how passengers are far more important than a polish.
When some boy scouts were camping and volunteering for the Skarloey Railway, they were going to help fix a part of the line that was wet and mushy when it rains. When the scouts became thirsty, the leader stopped Duncan to help them find something for them to drink in fear that they might be dehydrated. Unfortunately, the Refreshment Lady ran out of drinks since business was very busy for her, but Duncan suggested another tea shop near the station by the lake. They managed to pick up enough drinks, and the boys cheered Duncan for helping them. He even replied by saying "It's only fair we should help you too!"
Duncan has visited the Talyllyn Railway in Wales as a tourist attraction. The Talyllyn Railway now has events called Duncan Day when the engines are dressed as their counterparts.
Bio in the Television Series
Duncan has also been very cocky, but this has often fired back at him. His driver and fireman spooked him one evening when fireflies formed the shape of an engine. This put Duncan in his place, thinking he had just seen a ghost. His ego once landed him in a swamp, after being careless working on the incline railway.
Duncan is well known and often teased for his temper. He has met his match before, a passenger who grumbled more than him! Despite his rough exterior, he heroically helped Luke up a hill around Christmas time, showing his kinder side.
A while later, Duncan was at Crovan's Gate when he saw Hugo race by the station surprising him and Sir Handel, who were both wondering if that was an engine.
Duncan is a Scottish narrow gauge engine with rough manners and a strong temper. He was prone to boisterous bouncing about, which became known as "rock 'n' roll", whenever the mood took him, which once led to wedging in the north mouth of Rheneas Tunnel (probably caused from keystones knocked down by his funnel) and derailing on a stretch of line near Cros-ny-Cuirn. While Duncan means well, he often grumbles and complains, usually about not being polished or being over-worked, and can be rude, rough, and bad tempered. He claims to be a plain engine who believes in plain speaking, an approach which can cause him to make callous or belligerent remarks. Duncan can be a competitive engine too, particularly with James. He can be careless and make rash decisions which usually leads to his own downfall, (such as getting in arguments or short lived feuds with Rusty) but is not always quick to apologise or realise the error of his ways. However, upon Skarloey recalling Rheneas' gallant act to get his passengers home, Duncan admitted he had the wrong attitude and tried hard to be a more useful, respectable engine in future. In spite of his ways, Duncan can be a little misunderstood as he is focused, confident, resourceful and has a big heart. He is always willing to lend a helping hand whenever he can.
Duncan is based on the Talyllyn Railway's Douglas, an Andrew Barclay "E" or "Light" Class 0-4-0WT. This engine is currently selected to be dressed up as Duncan on special events associated with the "Thomas the Tank Engine" franchise, known as "Duncan Days". Several other engines of this class are also preserved.
In the Railway Series, Duncan is painted in the Skarloey Railway's red livery with blue and yellow lining, and with his name painted on the sides of his boiler in yellow. In the television series, he is painted golden yellow with black lining and gold boiler bands. He has brass, originally black, name and number plates on the sides of his coal bunkers and cab respectively.