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Wilbert was manufactured by the Hunslet Engine Company in Hunslet, Leeds, England, in 1953 and worked as a shunter at a colliery in Staffordshire. He was purchased by the Dean Forest Railway in 1976 and given the name "G. B. Keeling" in August 1981, but was renamed "Wilbert" on 13 September 1987, after the Reverend W. Awdry, who was then the president of the railway.
On 8 November 1983, Wilbert was honoured to haul a royal train for the Duke of Gloucester, and on 8 September 1991, attended the opening of the line to Lydney Lakeside with City of Truro.
When Donald and Douglas needed help on the branch lines in 1993, the Fat Controller borrowed him from his railway in Gloucestershire - the railway's controller was a friend of his - to give the twins some assistance. However, after Percy had an accident with some sacks of oatmeal, Wilbert was redirected to Thomas' Branch Line to do Percy's work. After Percy's return, Wilbert went to help Duck and Oliver on the Tidmouth-Arlesburgh branch.
In 2010, Wilbert was nearing the end of his major overhaul. Once his overhauled boiler returned in August 2010, he was partially-completed for a re-dedication by Reverend W. Awdry's two daughters during a Day Out with Thomas event. However, following the ceremony, Wilbert was put back into the workshop and dismantled to allow his overhaul to continue.
Following completion of his overhaul, Wilbert returned to service in April 2012, very appropriately on the Dean Forest Railway's Day Out with Thomas event. He is to be made available for hire to other heritage railways.
In July 2012, Wilbert was sent to the Weardale Railway, originally for a three-month loan period. However, the period was extended for another three months and Wilbert came home in January 2013.
At the start of March 2013, Wilbert, alongside four of his surviving siblings, participated in the "Blazing Saddles" event at Peak Rail in Derbyshire.
As of 2016, Wilbert is currently undergoing a boiler refurbishment.
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 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.
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