- "This is broad gauge. The Great Western used it until about a hundred years ago."
- ―Iron Duke to Thomas, Thomas and the Great Railway Show
Iron Duke is a broad gauge steam engine originating from the Great Western Railway.
Iron Duke in the Railway Series
Iron Duke, the replica, appeared in Thomas and the Great Railway Show. When he told Thomas his type of gauge, broad gauge, was used on the Great Western (1838-1892) until a century ago, Thomas resolved to tell Duck later.
Iron Duke in real life
Iron Duke, the replica, is a broad gauge engine currently living in the National Railway Museum. The original Iron Duke, who was designed by Daniel Gooch and built by Swindon Works in 1847, could haul a large load at 60 mph (96 km/h). The original Iron Duke was displayed at the Great Exhibition in 1851, and by 1855, Gooch had produced another twenty nine locomotives in this style.
The original Iron Duke's line runs from Swindon Works to London and Gloucester. The engine works was actually built in the town and had a station situated on the London and Bristol line in 1835 and the original Iron Duke was chosen to run this line. For many years, the Iron Duke replica was a top attraction at the National Railway Museum, running on the broad-gauge demonstration line. Sadly, the broad gauge track was tarmacked for a special show in 2002, so since then, Iron Duke was on static display in the Great Hall at the National Railway Museum.
In 2006, the Iron Duke replica was sent to Bristol to be housed inside a shed alongside the famous iron steam ship, the SS Great Britain as part of the 200th birthday celebrations of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
In 2010, the Iron Duke replica was sent to the Didcot Railway Centre to take up permanent residence and to work the broad-gauge demonstration line after some repairs were done to renew its boiler certificate.
Iron Dukes were originally built for the Great Western Railway in 1846. They class existed until the end of broad gauge use on the Great Western Railway in 1892. Lord of the Iles was initially preserved, but later scrapped in 1906.
Although the real Iron Duke did not survive into preservation, two replicas of it have been built. The North Star is allocated at Didcot Railway Centre, and is steamed up on special occasions. Another one is on loan at the National Railway Museum in York.
The original and replica Iron Dukes are painted brown with a green tender and wheels and gold lining. He also has a big, bushy moustache and eyebrows.
- The Iron Duke is the second engine to have a moustache, the first being Earnest.
- Iron Duke is the first and, so far, only broad gauge engine to appear. However, several characters in the television series are based on broad gauge engines, but have been scaled down to standard gauge.
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