GWR uniform colours

by Steve Daly

 



Station Master in 1900s attire

Photo from Mikkel Kjartan's Collection

On this page Steve Daly summarizes the major trends and changes in GWR uniform colours and styles – with an emphasis on the early years when the basic features were established. The information is based on J. N. Slinn's Great Western Way from the HMRS.

A few photos are provided here (see also below) but the best sources of photographic reference are the various published line histories, which often include group photos of GWR station staff etc. Online photos of GWR uniforms are rather rare, but you might want to have a look at Signalling People.

If anyone has supplementary information and observations on GWR uniforms, please do contact the webmaster.

 

Overview of GWR uniform trends
1838 All uniform coat colours Dark rifle green edged with scarlet Gilt buttons
Guards Frock coats & waistcoats with the letters "GWR" on the fall of the collar
Porters Sleeved jackets with an armband carrying their number in red surrounded by the company name
Conductors Worked in "mufti" with a lapel badge to indicate their role
Engine drivers White fustian jackets (Fustian was a hard wearing fabric of cotton mixed with flax or wool)
All uniformed grades Top hats of glazed beaver
Booking Clerks & other office staff at stations No uniform

By 1839

Porters

Green corduroy

1851

Guards

Top hats replaced by caps. Caps described as "typical Great Western", with small peaks, flat tops and stiff comparatively deep sides (sounds similar to the French kepi)

By 1852

Porters

Top hats replaced by caps. Change from green to brown corduroy (in the hope that it wouldn't show the dirt!)

1855

Engine Drivers

White fustian jackets abandoned

By 1859

Porters

 

Corduroy colour changed back from brown to green

All staff (including Policemen) All staff now wear caps

1863

Uniform colours of all grades except Porters

Uniforms changed from dark green to dark blue

1865

Station Masters

Uniform caps of the standard pattern, but of a superior cloth & a gold braided peak

1876

Porters

Sleeved waistcoats for summer wear. Corduroy coat in winter

1902

Most grades (except Station Master)

Soft caps introduced

Guards Serge jackets replaced frock coats
Signalmen & Ticket Collectors Serge jackets replaced police tunics
Porters Lost their numbered armbands
Inspectors, Guards & Foremen Grades marked on front of caps
Station Masters Gilt wreath around initials "GWR" on front of cap.

From 1902 onwards

All grades

Basic designs lasted till end of GWR. The cut of uniforms (incl. caps) kept pace with the changes in fashion so as not to look too old fashioned.

Date unknown (post-1902)

Porters

Uniform colour changed to Dark Blue

 

Webmaster's note:   When painting the uniforms of GWR staff, don't forget the hints of (suitably toned down) gold or brass required in some places. Below are a few examples to illustrate this.



Station Master's "Pill Box" Cap with gilt wire GWR roundel & laurel wreath badge, gilt braid, oak leaf band and decorative knot to crown


GWR Coat Buttons as appearing after 1933. Earlier coat buttons had different styles, but the same colour effect


Divisional Superintendents belt. This example is from Cardiff division.

Photos courtesy Talisman Auctions

 

Here is a a sleeved waistcoat, for a young GWR employee, obtained from Williton Station:

GWR staff uniform

Image courtesy of Chris Pamplin