GWR 1906–1934 loco livery


GWR Bulldog class 'Stanley Baldwin' at Paddington prior to 1912

Coloured postcards are often not a particularly reliable reference for colour schemes, but this delightful F Moore example seems to be an exception, depicting Bulldog 'Stanley Baldwin' with its pre-1912 number (3701) at Paddington.


GWR 175 Viscount Churchill

Another coloured postcard, of one of the prototype Saints, 175 'Viscount Churchill', depicted in 1907, showing the lining of cylinders and wheel bosses. The loco was later superheated, given top feed and a long cone boiler, and would be numbered 2975.

 

Martin Finney 3232 Class

This 2-4-0 3232 class loco, from a 4mm Martin Finney kit, is depicted in pre-WWI livery. Image courtesy Martin Finney


GWR City of Truro at Didcot

Preserved 3717 City of Truro at Didcot in pre-WWI livery. Polished splasher rims did not generally last much beyond the end of WWI. The route and power indicator is not appropriate to a pre-WWI depiction, and the blue is in anycase incorrect, Cities being 'red engines' when the route indicators began to be applied after c 1920. Image copyright Tony Hisgett, and licenced for use under Wikimedia Creative Commons


 

Devoid of insignia, saddle tank 856, possibly c 1914. Image courtesy of Kevin Dare. GWR saddle tank 856

 

2915 Saint Bartholomew, unlined, probably 1919-22 (Real Photographs)

With a cast-iron tapered chimney, bogie brakes, flush-riveted smokebox rings and splashers stripped of their original brass beading, this newly-outshopped Saint is unlined, c 1917–21. The safety valve cover is either painted over or has been left in a tarnished state. Its 3500g tender has GREAT WESTERN with no garter.


Venetian red connecting and valve gear on preserved Pannier tank

Venetian red on the insides of frames and the motion plate. Cranks, connecting rods and valve gear are also in venetian red, but the slidebars and crossheads are unpainted. The valve chests, reversing rod and the vacuum pump are black. This is a preseved Pannier, picture courtesy Tim Venton.

 

The early part of this period represents an overlap from the developments and changes being seen in the pre-1906 era.

From 1906 *, wheels and the outsides of frames were black, and splashers green, although splasher tops remained black. Locos now carried the garter crest on the tender sides. Express passenger locos continued to be fully lined, including cylinder covers and the outsides of frames. Lining on the tops of fireboxes ceased at some point during the Churchward era, but the exact date is not known. Insides of cabs remained green. Safety valve covers were polished. ( * The County Tanks of August/September 1906 are thought to have been the first production batch of locos with black wheels and frames.)

The lining situation on non-express passenger locos and goods locos is however far less clear. The early Churchward era was characterised by many Dean loco classes receiving numerous and regular changes to boilers, tanks, fireboxes and bunkers, and it seems that lining ceased to be applied to many such locos, particularly members of goods classes, possibly as early as 1904/5. Saddle tanks were normally unlettered and unlined after 1906, but some newly converted Pannier tanks appearing after 1910 appeared with lining. Like the pre-1906 era, the painting resources of Swindon were strained owing to the sheer number of locos being newly built or being upgraded or being repaired, and thus partial repaints and partial lining practices for the non-express and good locos would probably have continued.

Steel dome casings were introduced in 1904, which were painted in bodywork green, and brass dome covers began to be painted over from 1904. (The Railway Magazine belatedly reported the painting over of domes in October 1906.) Photographic evidence suggests that painted domes were common by c 1908, even on express passenger engines. Some pannier tank locos however were still being shopped with polished brass domes and polished steel smokebox door rims and hinges as late as 1912. The last polished dome to be seen in service was c 1923. Safety valve covers remained polished brass. Splasher rims/beadings were polished on some express passenger locos (Saints, Stars, and most 4-4-0s), but appear to be painted over, probably in black, for goods and tank engines. Insides of frames, and connecting rods and valve gear inside the frame, were Venetian Red.

GREAT (crest) WESTERN started to be added on the sides of larger tank locos from 1906, with the number plate being moved to the bunker side. This style was not consistently present, with many locos carrying their number plate centred on the tank sides.

Tank fronts on saddle and pannier tanks, where the tanks ended flush with the front of the smokebox, were black.

Tank fillers and tank vents were black. For tank locos with enclosed cabs, the outer rear face was black. Tops of side tanks were black.

Loco lamps had plain black bodies from c 1903 until 1915, when they became red, although this change was probably a leisurely one. Red lamps appeared earlier than 1915 however, but were probably confined to railmotors and autotrailers.

From 1907, the practice of painting the engine numbers on the right-hand side of loco buffer beams, thought to have started c 1904, became general. The 6" high sans-serif numerals were yellow shaded black. The shade of yellow used probably varied, from an initial dull shade ('gold') to a later pale to middle yellow. Adjacent is a colour patch used by the GWS at Didcot for the yellow on its bufferbeam numerals. Yellow shade for numerals on GWR bufferbeams

There were a few experimental liveries during this era. Some 517s used for early autotrains were painted brown (described in the Railway Magazine as 'reddish brown'), lined orange, in 1905. Some 4-4-2 'County' tanks, e.g. 2225, were painted in crimson lake livery (retaining black wheels and frames) in 1909. After WWI, some 517s were painted crimson lake c 1919 to match the livery of autotrailers.

Works plates on locos were gradually removed from 1911. They were however retained on tenders.

During WWI, locos requiring full repaints in the works were unlined, and from 1915–1917 received an austere unlined sandy shade of khaki body livery, with black frames, and possibly black bufferbeams. The amount of painting done during WWI was however minimal, many of the workforce being abroad at the front or employed on war work, and it is thought that the number of locos appearing with the khaki livery was small. Moguls 4381–99 are thought to have been painted in khaki, although other Moguls being built at the time received standard green. The vast majority of locos would have carried their pre-war liveries throughout the war, often under a coat of grime. It seems that green made a reappearance in 1917, but was unvarnished. Immediately following WWI, some, perhaps many, express locos were outshopped without lining, at least until reasonable painting resources were reinstated at the works.

The application of the crest to locos and tenders passing through the works was abandoned from 1916.

Following the grouping in 1922, Collett re-introduced full lining for express passenger locos – the classes involved were the Stars, Saints, Counties, Castles, and later on the Halls and Kings. The lining extended to splashers and cylinder sides. Safety valve covers for these classes were still polished brass. Ordinary passenger and goods locos never regained the lined livery, and were unlined. Officially, safety valve covers on such locos were painted green, but there seems to be evidence that safety valve covers on many ordinary passenger locos were left in an unpainted brass state, at least for the first few years after 1922. Panniers 7700–25, 7775–99 and 8700–49 were delivered from their outside contractors with polished brass safety valve covers, although most were soon painted over. However, many engines with painted safety valve covers were brightened in subsequent years by the removal of the paint at local sheds, on an adhoc basis.

Boiler handrails were black adjacent to the smokebox and green adjacent to the boiler and firebox. Cab handrails and cabside cutout beading and the perimeter beading on the top of tender fenders were black, as was the ejector pipe on the right-hand side of locos. Cab interiors were lined green, but the backhead was black. Chimney tops on express passenger locos were still polished copper, but were painted black on ordinary passenger and goods locos.

Between 1925 and 1930, some locos were painted in unlined black – these included the unmodified ROD 2-8-0s 3050–99 and some time-expired and soon-to-be-withdrawn Armstrong and Dean Goods locos.

For a detailed description of the application areas of colours, see Ian Rathbone's comprehensive guide to loco painting, covering 1923 to 1939.

Lining for boiler bands, cab side sheets and tenders was a 1" black line flanked by ⅛" chrome orange lines, with ½" bodywork green between the black and chrome orange lines. Boiler feed pipes were lined where the feed pipe lay on a boiler cladding joint (e.g. Star, Hall), but were not lined if the pipe did not lay on a boiler cladding joint (Castle, 47xx).

Lining panels were not applied to tenders with a continuous upper fenders, i.e. the Collett 3500g and 4000g tenders, but continued to be applied to the upper fenders of Churchward 3500g tenders running with lined locos, although this seems to have been phased out at some unknown date, possibly c 1930 onwards for some repaints, although there is evidence that where tenders were not repainted but simply had new insignia (the roundel) applied, then any lining on the fender was left alone and remained. Fender-lined tenders could be seen with roundel insignia as late as 1939.
GWR loco lining 1906

 

Insignia

The words 'GREAT WESTERN' (yellow, shaded black and vermilion) appeared on tender sides and tank sides of locos. The Garter Crest appeared between the words on the tenders of express passenger locos, but not on tank sides. There were many exceptions, e.g. locos newly fitted with pannier tanks and sidetank passenger locos. Saddle tank and older side-tank locos with number plates still in the middle of the tanks continued not to show any insignia. After WWI, the appearance of the Garter Crest on tenders of ordinary passenger and goods locos became rare, the application of the Garter Crest having been abandoned from 1916. With tender changing occuring regularly, some express passenger locos would have run with tenders from ordinary passenger locos, and thus might not display a Garter Crest.

In 1926, the Coat of Arms, as in the Saint illustration below, began to replace the Garter Crest on tenders allocated for express passenger locos. This change was gradual, because tenders were not overhauled and repainted as often as locos. The tender of Castle 4090, outshopped in July 1925, appeared with the Garter Crest, whereas the tender of Castle 4094, outshopped in May 1926, appeared with the Coat of Arms. Castle 5010, not completed until 1927, appeared with a Garter Crest on its tender. In these cases, it is likely a pool of 3500g tenders with Garter Crests existed for the new locos, or supplies of the Garter Crests transfers were being used up. Tenders were still appearing with the garter crest as late as March 1928. The Coat of Arns was never applied to non-tender engines.

 

GWR Duke 3254 'Cornubia' after a repaint, early 1920s

About to re-enter service, Duke 3254 'Cornubia' is spick and span after an overhaul and repaint in the early 1920s, but has picked up a grubby specimen from the 2500g tender pool.

 

GWR 0-6-2T 5600 in 1924

5600 works grey portrait, showing the positioning of the insignia on the tanks. Pictured when new in 1924, without cab shutters.

 

 

GWR Pannier 1738

Awaiting its plates, here is Craig Wharton's 1738 Pannier, in early to mid-1920s appearance, expertly built by John James from a Martin Finney 1854 kit, using a High Level gearbox and Ultrascale wheels.

 

Bulldog 3353 built by Greg Shaw

Examples of the post-1922 unlined green livery for ordinary passenger locos. Above is Greg Shaw's 4mm model of 3353 'Pershore Plum', and painted by Ian Rathbone, depicted as running immediately after its named was changed (originally 'Plymouth', on an oval plate) in 1927. It has a 3000g tender, flush-riveted smokebox and still has portholes in the cabfront. Image courtesy of John Brighton of Steamline Sheffield. Below is Sandy Harper's 7mm model of 3453 'Seagull', one of the last batch of deep-framed ('Bird' series) of Bulldog, running with a 3500g tender. Both are built from Martin Finney etched brass kits. The Bulldogs were introduced in 1899 as developments of the earlier Duke class.

GWR Bulldog, by Sandy Harper

 

GWR Saint, by Slaters

The 4-6-0 Saint class seen here is from a Slaters 7mm kit, depicted in post-1927 livery style. The Saints were among the most prominent locos in Churchward's design revolution, and the basis of the later Halls and 10xx Counties. The Saint Class first saw the light of day as four prototype engines built during 1902 and 1903. Image courtesy Slater's Plastikard

 

Power and route restriction indications

The route colour disc, with the power classification letter inside it, began to appear from mid-1919, and were indicated by a 2½" black letter centered within a 4½" diameter coloured circle. These were placed above the number plate, or high up on the cab sideplates where no cab sidewindows were present.

The colour of the circle is the general axle weight restriction:

ColourAxle weight
(uncoloured)14 tons or below
yellow14 tons up to 16 tons
blue16 tons up to 17 tons 12cwt
redabove 17 tons 12cwt
double redfor Kings


The black letter in the circle is the power group, according to the maximum tractive effort:

LetterTractive effort, lbs max
(none)16500
A18500
B20500
C25500
D33000
E38000
('special')above 38000


The 'special' code equated in reality to no letter being present in the King double red discs.

Examples are given in the adjacent graphic.
GWR power and route restriction indicators

 

Further reading:

Ian Rathbone's comprehensive Great Western Railway locomotive liveries 1923 – 1939