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An A4 by Any Other Name

Part Eight

By May 1949 the decision had been made to paint the major Express engines in each of the Regions of British Railways in a version of the Caledonian Railway "Blue" Livery. This Livery as such was made up with a mixture of Prussian Blue and White, and most historians agree that there were two versions of the Livery, i.e. Light and Dark, the shade being dependent on the quantity of white introduced at the mixing stage. I have no doubt that there would also be slight variations to these "Standard" shades, as precise measuring of the liquid paint would not be easily achievable, the paint being usually hand mixed in the workshop. A Southern Region "Merchant Navy" Class locomotive was chosen to test out the Light Caledonian Blue Livery, this proved to be too "pale", and soon became dirty. In consequence a "medium" shade of the Livery was tried, (somewhere between the Light and the Dark), and this was considered to be acceptable. One cannot help wondering, as the Garter Blue was slightly darker than the Light Caledonian Blue, why this was not given a try, no doubt inter Regional politics also had some influence on the choice.

A new BRITISH RAILWAYS Logo had also been agreed, this was in the form of a Gold (Yellow) Lion, straddling a Red Wheel, with a Black Band horizontally across the diameter of the Wheel, carrying the legend BRITISH RAILWAYS in White Letters. Two sizes of this Logo were produced, Large for the bigger engines, and Small for the other engines. They were also produced in Right and Left Hand versions, (a point that would cause some embarrassment with its successor), so that the Lion faced forward on both sides of an engine.

At the beginning of May 1949, there were 4 engines in the Experimental Purple Livery, (Nos. 60024, 60027, 60028, & 60029), 4 engines in Garter Blue Livery still carrying their L.N.E.R. number and insignia, (Nos. 14, 25, 26, & 32), One engine in Garter Blue Livery carrying its temporary NºE-22, with BRITISH RAILWAYS on the Tender, and the remaining 25 were all in Garter Blue Livery, and carrying their 6xxxx Numbers with BRITISH RAILWAYS on the Tender.

Digressing slightly from the chronological order in which the various changes have been presented, we will take a look at the 4 engines still in Experimental Purple Livery (or were they?). Nº60027 was the first to receive this Livery on 2/6/1948. It was back in works for a Light Repair, leaving on 26/7/1948, when it exchanged tenders with Nº60030, both tenders having to be re-liveried to suit their new partners. Nine months after the application of Purple livery it left Works after a General Overhaul on 6/4/49. Was it still Purple after this visit??, as it did not receive the new Blue Livery until 7/7/1950. If the livery was carried from 2/6/1948 until 7/7/1950 that is a period of 2 years 1 month. No. 60028 was next to get the Purple livery after a Light Repair on 7/6/1948, then left the works on 8/4/1949 after a General Overhaul (still in Purple Livery?), and received the new Blue Livery after a General Overhaul on 13/10/1950. This gives a period of 2 years 4 months from 7/6/1948 to 13/10/1950, the longest period that any of the 4 engines possibly carried this Livery. Similarly No. 60024 received the Purple Livery 18/6/1948 and possibly carried it until 24/4/1950, a period of 2 years 2 months, but the engine did have a General Overhaul between times leaving works on 18/3/1949. The only certainty to have carried the Purple Livery through to the time of the application of the new Blue Livery is No.60029, from 16/7/1948 to 13/1/50, a period of 18 months with no intermediate visits to the works.

With the application of the new Blue Livery to the A4 Class, the lining along the edge of the footplate and round the front buffer casing disappeared, and was also omitted from the cladding band over the firebox, immediately in front of the cab. The Lining was Black edged both sides with white to the boiler cladding bands. The Lining Panels to the Cabside and tender were a one inch wide Black band, flanked on each side by a half inch Blue band, and were completed with an eighth of an inch White band to the outer edges. There was a fairly rigid set of dimensions governing the application of the cab and tender lining, and the positioning of the running and power classification numbers. (See page 91, RAILWAY LIVERIES, BR Steam 1948 to 1968 – Brian Haresnape, revised by Colin Boocock – Published by Ian Allan). The shape of the Parabolic curve to the front edges of the smoke box also underwent a slight change, in that the, until then horizontal, line along the bottom, running into the footplate, was given a slight upward slope towards the front of the engine. This slope became more pronounced over the life of both the Blue and Green B.R. Liveries, not all the engines suffered, but a close study of photos taken in the mid to late 50s and early 60s reveals the variations that occurred.

All the engines, bar one, received the Blue B.R. Livery at General Overhauls, Nº60013 being the first on 20/5/1949. Two of the L.N.E.R. liveried engines followed, Nº32 on 10/6/1949 and Nº14 on 22/6/1949, and gaining their BR Nos. 60032 and 60014 at the same time. They were followed by Nº60009 on 4/8/1949, Nº60012 on 24/8/1949, Nº60023 on 31/8/1949, and NºE-22 on 16/9/1949 (also gaining its B.R. Nº60022). The next was L.N.E.R. liveried Nº26, and becoming 60026 in the process, on 23/9/1949, followed by Nº60016 on 21/10/1949, Nº60030 on 10/11/1949, No.60005 on 23/11/1949, and Nº60015 on 25/11/1949. A "Purple" Nº60029 was re-liveried on 13/1/1950, and the last L.N.E.R. liveried A4, Nº25, became Nº60025 and got the B.R.Blue livery on 27/1/1950, a full two years after the formation of British Railways. The application of the B.R. Blue Livery continued with Nº60002 on 2/2/1950, No. 60001 on 10/2/1950, Nº60021 on 31/3/1950, No.60018 on 5/4/1950, Nº60003 on 19/4/1950, No.60020 on 28/4/1950, Nº60006 on 31/5/1950, Nº60011 on 8/6/1950, and Nº60008 on 14/6/1950. The "Purple" No 60027 was next on 7/7/1950, followed by Nº60019 on 28/7/1950, Nº60004 on 10/8/1950, "Purple" Nº60024 on 24/8/1950, Nº60017 on 21/9/1950, Nº60007 on 27/9/1950, and Nº60010 on 29/9/1950. The last "Purple" Engine No. 60028 was re-liveried on 13/10/1950, followed by Nº60033 on 10/11/1950, and finally the exception to the rule, No 60034, after a Heavy Intermediate Repair, on 4/12/1950.

One of the stated aims was for the "new" liveries to last for 5 years between re-paints, maybe a little ambitious given the noticeable lack of cleaning at the time. The "Blue" soon began to show signs of deterioration, plus, on the Western Region, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the colour, "as it did not suit their engines", so it had to go. The slightly lower power classification engines had received a "Brunswick Green" Livery after the style of the G.W.R. Livery, lined out in Black edged in Orange. This colour was less susceptible to fading, could be easily touched up and re- varnished, and was successfully in use throughout the system, so the decision was easily made to switch to the Green.

Many people make the mistake of referring to the green as G.W.R. Brunswick Green, and certainly the shade was very close. The G.W.R. (like the Midland Railway with its "Midland Red") achieved the full rich depth of colour by the application of several coats of paint, unfortunately that was not a viable proposition due to the stringent financial conditions under which British Railways operated. The Paint is best described as British Railways Green, and it probably gained a "depth" of colour if the "clear" varnish used had a slightly brownish tinge.

As an aside, from reading the above, you may be wondering why the Trust is persisting with the B.R. Blue Livery. Well the answer is that, with modern paint technology, the pigments are more stable and are more accurately dispensed, also the varnish finish is harder and gives better protection against ultra violet rays. The engine is also subjected to a rigorous cleaning regime, using a high quality motor trade wax polish. (PLEASE NOTE:- The grade of polish we use is not suitable for use on family saloon cars, but in the hope we may get a free supply, we recommend the Autoglim range of products).

The decision to abandon the Blue Livery must have been taken in early 1951 and the first A4 to receive the Green livery was Nº60001 after a General Overhaul (G.O.) on 2/8/1951. The lining to the engines and tenders followed the guide lines previously set out for the Blue Livery, but this time the black was edged with Orange. The Engines were repainted as and when they were in the Works, not as previously only at General Overhauls, the next three A4s were repainted after Heavy Intermediate Repairs (H.I.), Nº60021 on 8/8/1951, Nº60002 on 14/8/1951, and Nº60018 on 4/10/1951. Five more engines were repainted before the end of the year, No. 60003 (G.O.) on 10/10/1951, Nº60006 (H.I.) on 17/10/1951, Nº60008 (G.O.) on 9/11/1951, Nº60015 (G.O.) on 22/11/1951, and Nº60020 (H.I.) on 30/11/1951.

It took the whole of 1952 to see the remainder of the Class repainted into the Green Livery, starting with Nº60014 (G.O.) on 4/1/1952, followed by Nº60019 (G.O.) on 12/2/1952, No. 60028 (G.O.) on 22/2/1952, Nº60004 (G.O.) on 29/2/1952, Nº60024 (G.O.) on 12/3/1952, Nº60011 (H.I.) on 10/4/1952, No, 60007 (G.O.) on 17/4/1952, No. 60010 (H.I.) on 8/5/1952, Nº60027 (G.O.) on 6/6/1952, Nº60033 (G.O.) on 13/6/1952, Nº60022 (G.O.) on 4/7/1952, Nº60016 (G.O.) on 10/7/1952, No. 60031 (G.O.) on 23/7/1952, Nº60034 (G.O.) on 7/8/1952, Nº60023 (Non Classified Repair) on 4/9/1952, Nº60030 (G.O.) on 24/9/1952, Nº60009 (G.O.) on 2/10/1952, No.60013 (G.O.) on 8/10/1952, Nº60026 (G.O.) and Nº60032 (G.O.) both on 24/10/1952, Nº60029 (H.I.) on 30/10/1952, Nº60005 (G.O.) on 11/11/1952, Nº60012 (G.O.) on 21/11/1952, Nº60025 (H.I.) on 6/12/1952, and finally Nº60017 (H.I.) on 21/12/1952.

One peculiarity (or should it be two) that probably occurred during the application of the Green Livery to Engines Nº60010 and 60012 was that the bottom edge of the lined panel on the Tenders was not parallel with lower edge of the side sheet, and sloped down from front to back.

Nº60009 was fitted with a plaque, showing a stylised Springbok, on the left hand side of the engine only during a visit to the Works, in April 1954. The plaque is engraved with a presentation date of December 1953. The final addition was to Nº60024 on 21/10/1954, when plaques showing the badge of H.M.S. Kingfisher were fitted in a central position on the casing at Haymarket Shed.

The only other change of note to affect the Livery was the adoption of a new logo for tenders and side tanks, in 1956, and applied to the A4 Class from April 1957 onwards. This was based on the British Transport Commission’s Heraldic Crest, and can only be described as Crown, with a Lion standing erect inside the Crown, facing Left, and holding a wheel between its front paws, the whole being enclosed in a roundel, BRITISH RAILWAYS being displayed either side of the roundel in rectangular panels. This was duly applied and as previously left and right hand versions of the crest were employed, basically so that the lion always faced forward. However this was a major blunder, as Heraldic convention decrees that as the lion faces left on the official British Transport Commission Crest, it must always face that way on any emblem or logo derived from that Crest.

The End

Editor's Note:~ All dates quoted above are given in the British format of Day/Month/Year
Researched and written by Mel Haigh,
Education Officer, Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Trust Ltd.
First published in Chime 126, Christmas 2002
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