GWR building and structure colours

Martyn Strudwick's 7mm station building for Church Norton

Martyn Strudwick's 7mm station building for his Church Norton layout, based on the William Clarke design at Dymock.


There are differing views about the history of building liveries – this page offers one view, and the "Additional Reading" link below offers a slightly different alternative. Other possibilities are being discussed and investigated, and this page will be updated if and when a consensus view emerges.


Kidderminster Station. Image courtesy Friends of Kidderminster Station.

GWR 'No. 2' and 'No. 3' colours applied to a door at Kidderminster Station, on the SVR.

Basic colours

Both the memory and perception of the public is that the GWR was a 'brown and cream' railway. Whilst this was generally true after WWI for passenger rolling stock, it was not true for structures. The notion of a 'brown and cream' railway probably arose from the fact that British Railways (Western Region) painted structures thus from 1949 until the mid-1960s.

GWR No. 1 "Cream" was used as undercoat (not visible).

GWR No. 2 "Light stone" was used on woodwork on awnings, including underside of awning or roof, but excluding mouldings on outside of awning edge.

GWR No. 3: "Dark stone" was used on Columns, roof girders,trusses ad ironwork, roof lights, window frames and associated woodwork, gutters, fallpipes, and panels attached to valences or end of awning or roof.

Maroon-brown was used for gutters and fallpipes of other station structures (eg lamprooms, weighbridges). After 1931, there was a tendency to use the maroon brown more widely, instead of No. 3.


Colour swatches for light and dark stone

Structure colours were usually mixed by building subcontractors, and although colour reference plates were used, some variation in the colours would be expected. Colour values in rgb and hex are given, but should be regarded only as a guide.

Light stone   (rgb 216,158,115;   hex: #D89E73)

Dark stone   (rgb 167,104,87;   hex: #A76857)


Specific buildings

Timber stations had external walls, door panels and barge boards in No. 2. Other frames of building, doorframes window frames, mullions, window cills, gutters and down pipes in No. 3. Window sashes and glass framing was white.

Brick built buildings had window frames, cills, mullions, door panels and barge boards in No. 2. No. 3 was used for structural woodwork on the outside of the building, gutters and downpipes, doorframes and doors (except panels), wooden plinths at ground level and ironwork (eg bars on windows). Window sashes and glass framing were white.

When introduced, the maroon brown was used in place of No. 3 for doors, door frames and ground level plinths on both types of buildings. Lower frames or the bottom four or five planks on framed structures were similarly treated.

For Pagoda-style waiting shelters, walls were No. 2. Doors, downpipes and gutters in No. 3. Window frames, sliding lights and glass framing was in white.


Clinkerford. Image copyright Russ Elliott.
GWR 'No. 2' and 'No. 3' colours applied to 4mm structures on 'Clinkerford'.

Other details

The general rule was that raised framing of any kind was finished in No.3 and panelling (including falsework) was in No. 2.

Gutters, downpipes and window frames were occasionally seen in No. 2.

In early years of the century, valences were painted with each plank alternately No. 2 and No. 3.


Historical note

In an article in the October 1904 Railway Magazine on railway colour schemes, it is stated: "The Great Western Railway is very fond of light blue for the interior walls of stations, though lately it has improved on this by light green.". It should be noted however that some descriptions contained in the Railway Magazine can be somewhat anecdotal and are not always particularly reliable.



  • Great Western Way (J W Slinn); Historical Model Railway Society, 1978

  • A Pictorial Record of Great Western Architecture (Adrian Vaughan); OPC, 1991

  • Personal examination of paint fragment and examination and comparison of colour charts.


Further reading:

Great Western Railway structure colours