No 1450
No 1450 at Roebuck on the West Somerset Railway. Photo © Ron Lingley. Art by Salty, SIF

This GWR 0-4-2 tank, designated the 14xx class from its numbers, was designed by CB Collett in 1932 especially for small branch-lines which could only tolerate limited weight. The engine often worked with a single autocoach coupled (Isabel) in an arrangement known as "push-pull" working in which the entire train-set would not be turned around end-to-end. At least four of these small engines have been preserved. According to Pat Hammond, the Rev Awdry was inspired to create the character after a visit to the Dart Valley Railway, which had reopened in April.1969. That line is now known as the South Devon Railway and has one 14xx locomotive, no. 1420, currently under overhaul.

From Tony Grigg's notes on "The Island of Sodor":
Number 11 "Oliver"
Oliver is a GWR 0-4-2T 1400 Autotank locomotive built for branch line work. Oliver arrived in Sodor in 1968 and was saved from scrap. Believed to be number 1436. Now based at Arlesburgh for working the branch line.


The "Real Oliver":
With thanks to Barry Hoper, James Gratton tracked down photos of the real 'Oliver', 0-4-2T #1436 that serviced the former GWR's lines. Unfortunately, not much could be found at this time about this particular loco's history. Copies can be ordered from The Transport Treasury. As with 'Duck', it seems that the Rev. Awdry incorporated the numbers that came with his model locos into a few of his characters' mythos.

Oliver arrived in "Enterprising Engines" (1968) and starred in "Oliver the Western Engine" (1969)

Modeller's Corner

Oliver's modelling history bears a lot of uncanny parallels to that of Stepney

Right: Oliver on the Rev W.'s Ffarquhar Branch. An model for artists Peter and Gunvor Edwards built from a K's kit. Thanks to Pat Hammond for this information. Photo from the 1979 Thomas annual, with many thanks to Ryan Healy.

Oliver on Ffarquhar layout
Dapol model of Oliver Hornby model of Oliver
Airfix first made the 14xx as part of their brief venture into working models. Dapol acquired the tool and released it in a number of liveries including the GWR "shirtbutton" livery favoured by Oliver.
HORNBY then acquired the tool and also made many versions before finally making it Oliver with a face (TV series version no 11, not 1436). Available for purchase through Amazon.co.uk (click image above to see product page)

Gavin Rose has restored Oliver to his RWS livery on an equally more realistic chassis and body. For more details, check out Gavin's special modelling page.

Gavin Rose redoes Iliver

Collector's Corner
Classic ERTL model of Oliver Learning Curve Take Along version of Oliver Learning Curve Wooden version of Oliver Tomy version of Oliver
ClassicERTL model of Oliver LC Take-along Oliver LC Wooden Model of Oliver Tomy model of Oliver
All models above are still available (new or used) from Amazon.co.uk (or U.S) Click images to be taken to respective product pages

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