GWR 1900–1906 loco livery

Martin Finney 7mm 3232 Class

2-4-0 3232 class loco, expertly built and painted by Chris Wesson from a Martin Finney kit. This is the 7mm version, but they are also available in 4mm. The 3232s were introduced under Dean in 1892, working at first on the South Wales expresses. They were later used on the secondary lines, including the Reading and Newbury area. This class did not have conventional number plates, the brass numerals being attached individually in an arc matching the splasher shape. Image courtesy Martin Finney/Chris Wesson

 

Lee Marsh model of GWR Dean Goods 2487

Lee Marsh's 7mm scale model of a Dean Goods 0-6-0, built from a Martin Finney kit. Image courtesy of and copyright Lee Marsh. The old style of 'socket' for loco lamps was officially changed in 1903, but was still appearing on new build engines in 1904.

 

With the exception of some detail differences, the livery carried by locos from 1900–1906 followed closely the overall style introduced from around 1894, when the standard Middle Chrome Green was introduced for the body colour.

Throughout the 1900–1906 era, there are indications of some transitional/experimental changes being adopted prior to their formalisation in the 1906 scheme.

Wheel spokes and hubs, splashers fronts and frames were in Indian Red (or shades thereof, Great Western Way describing them as 'purple-brown'), with full lining throughout. The brass dome, brass safety valve, brass whistles, brass splasher rims 1, brass vertical cabside beadings, cabfront brass window surrounds and the chimney's copper cap were fully polished, as was any beading at the junction of boiler and smokebox. Buffer beams, buffer stocks (except for their top steps, which were black) and the insides of frames were in China Red (vermilion). Footplate, splasher tops, smokebox and cab roof were black. Insides of cabs were body-colour green. Buffer heads, handrails, smokebox door rims and their hinges and dart handles were polished steel, as were the spring shackle cups on carrying and tender wheels. Coal rails on tenders were black. The bodies of loco lamps were black until 1903/4, thereafter they were red (the red being assumed to be vermilion).

Tank locos followed the same painting and finishing style, with fully lined boiler, tanks and bunker, but they did not carry the monogram or any indication (other than a works plate fitted on the rear of the bunker) of GWR ownership. Tops of side tanks were black. Number plates were placed in the centre of the side tank, or on cabsides for saddle tanks. Number plates on the larger tank engines were sometimes moved to the bunker side when larger bunkers were fitted.

From 1903/4, it would appear that splasher fronts above the footplate started to appear in green rather than Indian Red, and springs, both below and above the footplate, on both locos and tenders, began to be painted black rather than Indian Red (although the spring shackle cups continued to be polished steel). There was a report in the Railway Magazine that springs started to be painted black as early as 1902. On goods locos and tanks, it seems that brass splasher beading was painted over, probably in black (to match the splasher tops). The evidence for some of these transitional livery aspects is not good, and somewhat contradictory, and it is unlikely they were applied consistently to all newly painted or repainted locos, until their formal adoption in 1906.

From mid-1905 the GWR monogram seen on the '3-panel' tender of the loco above was replaced with the garter crest, located between the words 'GREAT WESTERN', with the lining on tender sides being simplified to a single panel rather than the three shown in the picture above. The style changeover date was probably between April and July 1905. It seems that some locos were however being shopped with '3-panel' tenders up to late 1905.

Lining on many goods locos began to cease from 1904/5 onward. Repainting of goods locos passing through the works was often confined to those parts of the loco that had been repaired or modified. This reduction of cosmetic treatment reflected the large number of locos that were being upgraded and modified during this period, and also the closure of the dedicated loco paint shop at Swindon, loco painting thereafter being carried out in the erecting shop.

1  The situation on the polishing of splasher rims before 1903 for goods and tank engines is not clear, and it is possible only some passenger engine classes were polished. Splasher rims on some 4-6-0 express passenger locos prior to 1906 were painted, and polishing seems to have begun at some stage after 1906. Dated pictures should be consulted on this matter.

 

No 7 Armstrong at Bristol Temple Meads. The date in unknown, probably c 1905–6, and the loco still has its pre-1904 lamp sockets. The dome, possibly a replacement steel one, is painted in bodywork green. GWR Armstrong No 7 at Bristol Temple Meads, c 1905-6

 

Regarding the shade of the colour used on outside frames, the following pictures show a colour darker than a usual modern interpretation of 'Indian red', and much closer to a 'purple-brown':

7mm GWR River class 2-4-0 detail A detail of a 7mm River class 2-4-0 painted by Adrian Prescott. The shade was mixed by Adrian's customer from a combination of Precision Paints colours.



Awaiting its number plates and lining on the rear of the tender, below is Stefan Jönsson's Dean 2-2-2 converted from a Triang Lord of the Isles 4-2-2.
GWR Dean 2-2-2

 

The loco shown here is a 517 Class built from a 7mm Malcolm Mitchell kit. The Class was introduced under Armstrong in 1868, and were used widely on branchlines and suburban trains. Note the splasher rim is unpolished. Image courtesy Malcolm Mitchell Malcolm Mitchell 517 Class

 

GWR 2-4-0 Barnum 3219 tender at Oxford GWR 4-4-0 County 3478 tender at Plymouth Laira

A short-lived experiment in 1904 used a non-serif font for the insignia on tenders, shown here behind Barnum 3219 at Oxford and County 3478 at Plymouth Laira

 

GWR 137 with partial lining

Partial lining. Even when taking into account the blindness of old b&w film stock to some colours, particularly chrome orange, here is 2-4-0 137 at Oxford, showing fully lined boiler bands, partially lined splashers, and no lining on the frames.

 

Lining

The vermilion buffer beams were edged with a ⅝" black border and a ⅛" orange chrome line.

GWR loco bufferbeam lining

The Indian Red frames had a ⅞" black border and a ⅛" orange chrome line.

 

The Locomotive Volume 1, No. 3, March 1896 states: "The engines of the Great Western Railway are painted chrome green, the shades varying with the works at which the engine was constructed. Express and passenger engines built at Swindon are painted a lighter green than the goods and tank engines turned out of the same shops while engines from Wolverhampton assume quite a blue green. The striping of the engines also differ, Swindon engines having a black band of medium width a very fine yellow line on either side, but Wolverhampton engines a fine white line in place of the yellow. The framing and splashers of all engines are a dark red brown, edged round with, a narrow black border with a fine yellow line inside it. The domes and safety valve casings are bright brass, as also is the chimney top; this latter on Swindon-built engines in of a bell-top pattern whereas Wolverhampton engines have a moulded top. The buffer beams are vermillion edged round black and fine yellow line. The interior of the cabs is painted vermillion to about the height of the splashers, then green above, edged round with black and fine yellow line. Altogether the G.W. Railway engines are handsomely painted, and being kept very clean always boast of an imposing appearance. The splashers of the 3001 class of single bogie express engines are further decorated with the arms of the G.W. Railway surrounded by a garter cast in relief and maintained in true Heraldic fashion, and on either side of this the crests of London and Bristol respectively, also in relief. On other express engines the coat of arms is "transferred" on the driving splasher. Number plates are of brass, raised figures, with a background of black with fine yellow line round the inside."