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My Top Five Liveries

James Hickman

JAMES HICKMAN takes us through his top five liveries.

Welcome to the first in a series of articles from us here at Gaugemaster in which staff members share some of our favourite liveries. The term livery refers to finish or branding of something in relation to its owning body, in essence the company's branding applied to vehicles, aircraft, products, or uniforms. We see liveries on things every day, the trains we travel on, the buses we pass. They are all around us and most of the time they go unnoticed. I have been given the task of writing the first of these articles on the subject and here it is; my top five liveries.

I'm starting this list with something a bit different from what I think the editor was expecting... I was given the title of this article; My Top Five Liveries, and told to 'set the bar' of this series. Initially I struggled a bit with trying to think of what liveries I actually favoured. My modelling preference is the LMS purely on locomotive design not the colours, and there were only so many liveries the LMS used. Then it hit me. Nothing was said that it had to be liveries of locomotives or railways. If you are reading this then I guess my first livery choice made it in to the article, and the series wasn't re-titled to 'My Top Four Liveries' by the angry editor! (Thinking outside the box, youíll go far... Ė Ed)

5: Southdown

Livery Operated by: Southdown Motor Services.

Livery Details: Bodies painted in green with cream banding.

Southdown Bus Public Domain

Southdown Bus at Amberley Museum. (Photo: Public Domain).

This livery is a favourite of mine, not because of anything more than it is also one of my fatherís favourites. He has an avid interest in buses as well as railways, and the Southdown buses are a particular favourite of his. As I grew up I was dragged along to many bus conventions, shows, and meets, and I guess itís because of this that this livery holds a special place in my heart. The time I spent with my parents at these events was quality time with them, something a lot of us struggle to do as we get older, and the Southdown bus was the symbol of it. The company had a vast fleet of vehicles ranging from coaches and buses to AEC matadors and Morris minors for fleet support. All were embellished with this livery with the smaller vehicles losing the top stripe of green. This livery lasted throughout the heyday of the Southdown Company and can be seen at rallies up and down the country. The Amberley Museum local to us has a collection of Southdown buses housed in their own depot.

3 and 4: BR Experimental Liveries - Blue (Steam Locomotives) 'Blood and Custard' (Coaches)

Livery Operated by: British Railways.

Livery Details (Locomotives): Blue bodywork with white lining.

Tornado at Bluebell Railway

Tornado at the Bluebell Railway in BR Blue (Photo by the editor).

Livery Details: (Coaches): Red bodywork with a cream band extending slightly above and below windows.

BR Coach Public Domain

Crimson Lake and Cream Coach (Photo: Public Domain).

There is something that appeals to me with these two liveries. Although short lived, this was British Railway's attempt at unifying the livery on its stock. When it took control of the 'Big Four' companies BR had a multitude of stock existing in its varying liveries of its former owners. Initially the stock simply had the BR emblem applied instead of the former owners and in the case of the locomotives they were renumbered as well. This new livery was a way of BR trying to unify their fleet and the blue was destined for its larger passenger locomotives as a flagship livery. Unfortunately not long after its introduction, this livery was dropped.

It was a similar story with the coaching stock, an attempt to unify the livery with a complementary colour scheme to the locomotive blue. There were a few different variants of this colour scheme with some reds darker than others, and some creams lighter. The slang term 'Blood and Custard' refers to BRs scheme of Crimson Lake and Cream (werenít they a prog supergroup in the 70s? - Ed). A trial version of this livery was slightly different with the red being a Carmine colour and the cream paler. This version was known as the 'Plum and Spilt Milk' scheme. There were other less documented versions of this livery, but the overall look of the coaches makes this list.

2: Stroudley's Improved Engine Green

Livery Operated by: The London Brighton and South Coast Railway.

Livery Details: Ochre bodywork with olive green border, lined with red, black and white.

Terrier Locomotive

Terrier Locomotive Boxhill at the National Railway Museum (Photo: NRM).

This livery always confuses railway enthusiasts and one of the questions I am asked a lot is why it is called green when it clearly isn't. There is a lot of speculation as to why it is called this; some people say it is because Stroudley was colour-blind and believed this to be a shade of green. The main theory as to its name lies in Stroudley's previous job as Superintendent for the Highland Railway. Here he used this colour as the livery for the locomotives. Instead of using a different colour he told the directors after his move to the LB&SCR that it was an 'improved green' and thus different to the HR colour. This enabled him to use it on the LB&SCR Locomotive fleet and the name stuck. Being a fan of the LMS I would have to say I like to think that there is some of the old Highland Railways colours being used on the London Brighton fleet.

1: Caledonian Blue (LMS)

Livery Operated by: London Midland Scottish Railway.

Livery details: Solid Light blue with silver lining.

Terrier Locomotive

The livery as shown on the out-of-production Hornby 175th Anniversary LMS Coronation Train Pack (Photo: Hornby).

This livery was seen on the flagship locomotives of the LMS Coronation Class. The first five of this class to be built (numbers 6220 to 6224) were painted in the blue of the Caledonian Railway, a company that was merged with others into what became the LMS. These locomotives were given streamlined casing and coaching stock to match the livery, which was a dramatic change from the usual LMS Crimson or Maroon. The five locomotives carrying this livery were; 6220 Coronation, 6221 Queen Elizabeth, 6222 Queen Mary, 6223 Princess Alice, and 6224 Princess Alexandra.

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