GWR 1942–1947 loco livery

GWR Maindy Hall in 1942 WWII all black livery

This Bachmann Hall was repainted from lined green to wartime black by Martin Blackwell. Flack screens were added from brass sheet embossed with fixings, and etched plates were from the Modelmaster range. The prototype 4942 received all black livery on 18 June 1943. Following the lifting of blackout restrictions in April 1945, removal of platings on side windows began about the end of May 1945, but not completed until late 1947. Photo by Martin Blackwell, courtesy of the owner Gareth Price.


GWR Star 4035 in April 1946 in unlined green

Star 4035, outshopped in April 1946 in unlined green. It had been in all-over black since 1942. The safety valve cover is painted.


In post-1945 green, the Manor Class loco shown here is from a Malcolm Mitchell etched brass kit. These engines were introduced in 1938, and were quite versatile engines due to their relatively light axle loading. Image courtesy Malcolm Mitchell. Malcolm Mitchell Manor Class


Pannier 8729 in GWR WWII green livery

7mm Pannier by Paul Cambridge showing the scruffy appearance typical of many locos. The livery is green underneath the weathered grime. The loco is a Vulcan kit with added detail. Photo courtesy Paul Cambridge.


From 1942, the shirtbutton ceased to be used. Ordinary passenger and goods classes carried the letters 'G W R' appropriately spaced on tender or tank sides, and express passenger locos had the Coat of Arms between 'G' and 'W'. On tank locos, there was some variation in the spacing between the letters 'G W R'.

From April 1942 (possibly February 1942) to 1945, all classes receiving full repaints in the works, except for some Kings, Castles and Stars, were painted all black, as a result of wartime shortages 1. Locos were not lined, and it seems that safety valve covers were painted over. For locos painted black, the insignia did not have any black shading.

To aid their visibility in wartime conditions, power and route restriction indicators positioned high on cab sides were lowered to be above the numberplate.

Insignia were placed to avoid rivets on tank and tender sides. (Example of how not to do it!)


The insignia used for 'G W R' on some locos by Caerphilly Works during and after WWII was in an unshaded sans-serif font called Grotesque, but it isn't known whether it was in gold or straw colour.

Examples of locos with this style of font are 38, 46, 47, 60, 66, 79, 80, 94, 188, 204, 231, 258, 272, 281, 286, 322, 332, 352, 371, 386, 402, 404, 422, 425, 610, 667, 681, 684, 1086, 1105, 1205, 1720, 1878, 2009, 2039, 2134, 2761, 2798, 4201, 4211, 4224, 4295, 5192, 5252, 5600, 5611, 5627, 5644, 5666, 5667, 5671, 5672, 5681, 5688, 6413, 6600, 6602, 6620, 6629, 6634, 6640, 6660, 6677, 6697, 6712, 6714, 7200 and 7721.
GWR 2022 with 'Grotesque' font insignia

2022 at Swindon in 1949, with G W R in 'Grotesque' font

GWR in Grotesque font on 0-6-2T 6697

Grotesque font applied to preserved 0-6-2T 6697 at Didcot
(image extract courtesy of Gareth Price)


GWR pannier 6714

6714 with Grotesque font insignia and a prominent triangular shunting duty plate at Swansea East Dock on 6 July 1947. It was one of the 'shunting only' 57xx subclass of 6700–49.


GWR 3738 in wartime black livery

Preserved 3738 in wartime black at the Didcot Railway Centre in June 2013. Picture copyright and permission of Chris Thomas.


GWR Hall 5998 in WWII black

Robin Sweet's unlined wartime black Hall 5998


GWR 'X' notation on cabsides

In WWII, Counties, Halls, Granges and some 2-8-0s were permitted to haul loads heavier than those specified for their power classification. These engines had a 2.5" white X painted above the number plate. This X notation continued into the BR(W) era.

Collett 4000g tender with shallow gussets and short hangers outshopped in February 1945 in unlined black GWR 4000g tender in February 1945

In 1945 green was restored, as was polished safety valve covers to those locos with copper-capped chimneys – as on the Manor shown above. It is not known when in 1945 the return to green commenced. Lining was restricted to the express passenger locos and their tenders, but loco valances, tender frames, cylinders, buffer housings, internal cab, and firebox lining over splashers were no longer lined. It is not clear how many classes were regarded as 'express passenger' in the immediate aftermath of WWII, and there was a degree of inconsistency in the application of lining to locos depending on the availability of painting staff. Some Castles appeared freshly painted without lining in 1946, and their tenders were also unlined. Halls were shopped without lining, but the new Modified Halls (6971–90) appeared with lining. It seems that all Collett 4000g tenders, lined or unlined, carried G crest W regardless of whether they would be assigned to 'express passenger' locos, but all Hawksworth 4000g tenders were lined.

A 1947 Swindon paint specification indicates that fittings on the tops of pannier and saddle tanks were in green. Tops and fittings on side tank locos remained black. In the same specification, green is cited for "cabsides front and back (inside and outside)" but black for "bunker coal space". For enclosed cab tank engines, the black 'bunker coal space' did not extend to the outside rear face of the cab, which remained in green.

Some tank locos took their G W R liveries up to their last days in the early 1960s, e.g. 9703. Other locos still carrying G W R into the late 1950s and early 1960s were 4628, 6733, 7428, 8792 and 9710.


Churchward 3500g tender in 1946 livery

Flush-riveted Churchward 3500g tender freshly repainted at Swindon in 1946. The 'G coat of arms W' indicates the tender will be paired with an express passenger loco. The fender is lined, as is the rear face of the body. It is not known how widespread lining of fenders on Churchward 3500g tenders was at this time. The frames are also lined, so suggests a special treatment to match a specific loco.


GWR saddle tank 1925 in post-WWII green

1925, in standard 1947 livery, a unique repaint for the 1949 film 'The Chiltern Hundreds', was the only saddle tank to have been repainted in green post-WWII.


GWR Hall 4920 in post-war unlined green

Robin Sweet's Hall 4920 in postwar unlined green


Pannier 8751 at Old Oak Common, 20 March 1961

With its G W R insignia showing through its fading black paint, a dusty 8751 at Old Oak Common on 20 March 1961. 4628, 6733, 7428, 8792, and 9710 are examples of locos keeping their G W R insignia into to the late 50s/early 60s. 4628 went to scrap in 1964 still with G W R insignia.


 1  In April 1942, Hawksworth issued a directive "All engines and tenders, with the exception of 'Kings' and 'Castles' will be painted black when they require repainting after repairs or building. No engines will be lined after they have been painted." (GWR Circular No 6251: CME Department, Swindon. Painting of Locomotives, 3 April 1942).


Further reading:

Ian Rathbone's comprehensive Great Western Railway locomotive liveries from 1946