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- “You and Percy make a fine pair. He had the porridge, and you had the milk.”
- ―Thomas, Wilbert the Forest Engine
The Railway Series
In 1993, Donald and Douglas were both becoming overworked, so in order to ease their workload, the Fat Controller arranged for Wilbert to come to his railway to help them on the Little Western until he could afford another engine like him. However, after Percy had an accident with some porridge, Wilbert was relocated to the Ffarquhar Branch Line to do his work.
Wilbert's first job was to work at the lead mines. While he was in the sheds, he told Thomas and Toby about Sixteen, a troublesome engine who wanted to pass a danger sign. Thomas also told Wilbert about many of the jobs that he had to carry out on the branch line.
One day, after spending too much time chatting to James at Knapford, Wilbert had neglected to take on more water. He stopped at the dairy to refill on water, but accidentally stopped at the wrong hosepipe; instead of taking on water, his tanks were filled with milk. Thomas joked about this when he brought Wilbert back to Ffarquhar.
After Percy returned from the Works, the Fat Controller sent Wilbert to the Little Western to help the engines there. When he was about to take a ballast train, the coupling plate on the front ballast truck fell off. After spotting a coil of wire, Wilbert decided to use it to couple up to the damaged truck, and managed to get his train to the big station safely. Afterwards, Wilbert left Sodor and returned to the Dean Forest Railway.
Wilbert is sensible and polite, and does his best to work well. He is also clever and inventive, as seen when he suggested that signal-wire might be used to act as a coupling for a truck.
In the magazines, Wilbert is depicted as a hard worker and a nature lover. When he wants a rest, he goes deep into the forest.
Wilbert was built by the Hunslet Engine Company in Leeds, England in 1953. He was purchased by the National Coal Board, and worked as a shunter in a colliery in Staffordshire. He was bought by the Dean Forest Railway in 1976, and became the first steam engine owned by the Forest of Dean Railway Ltd.
In August 1981, the Reverend W. Awdry christened the engine "G.B. Keeling", after the first Chief Mechanical Engineer on the Severn and Wye Railway after a members' ballot for the engine's name. On November 8th, 1983, G.B. Keeling hauled the royal train on the line when the Duke of Gloucester visited the railway.
On September 13th, 1987, Awdry chose to name the engine "Wilbert" in his honour after a major overhaul and repainting. On September 8th, 1991, Wilbert attended the opening of the line to Lydney Lakeside with City of Truro. In 2010, Wilbert underwent a major overhaul, and returned to service in April 2012. He is now stored awaiting boiler repairs.
Wilbert is painted navy blue with red lining and black wheels. He has red nameplates with gold writing. His nameplates have the words "Rev. W. Awdry" underneath "Wilbert".
- According to the UK Thomas and Friends website, Wilbert and Percy get along well as they are both saddle tank engines.
- The 1994 edition of Troublesome Engines has a silhouette of Wilbert pulling two coaches on the back-cover.