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Sourcing original colour shades; UTA, CIE, GNR& others

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It just occurred to me that it might be of interest to readers to know of exact examples in existence of old railway companies' paintwork, and actual paint still available.


The following are STILL on the books of the old Belfast paint manufacturer, Jamison & Green, or at least were until very recently. there was a man who retired from the firm a few years ago who was able to source the following for the RPSI, as they had actually supplied the colours to the GNR & UTA:


1. UTA green

2. GNR cream, as on upper panels of the Fintona Tram, buses and railcars, and main line stock repainted for the "Festival" train operated jointly with the NCC in 1951.

3. GNR navy blue, for the above. It is worth pointing out here that the current RPSI scheme on the Cravens is NOT the same; it is blue, whereas the GNR was NAVY blue.


In addition, if you visit the Headhunters Railway Museum in Enniskillen, among the collection of railway coats of arms there (often incorrectly referred to as "crests"), the following ones are mounted on boards painted in actual railway company paint:


1. GNR loco blue

2. GNR coach varnish

3. NCC maroon*

4. BNCR maroon

5. DNGR brown, though surface damaged by poor quality wartime varnish!

6. CDRJC cherry red

7. Clogher Valley maroon*

8. GSR later (post-1933) maroon*

9. BCDR maroon** also contains accurate style of lining from 1937-49 period

10. UTA green

11. Dublin & Blessington dark green, as applied to locomotives, tramcars and lower body sides of railcars

12. DUTC / CIE green, on both the DUTC garter and the "flying snail"; the latter showing accurately the shade of light green and gold lining

13. DUTC pre-1937 grey with yellow lining; coincidentally exact same as 1961 early 121 & touring coach livery! (Was this deliberate?)

14. CIE green. This is the same as DUTC tram green, as post-1937, and is thus represented on the "flying snail". The "snail" dates originally from 1941 and was later copied exactly by CIE, but without the "Dublin Tramways" legend in Irish across it!


The maroon behind the GSWR device and the grey behind the GNR splasher device are not accurate, but were used as they were the only things to hand at the time the transfers were mounted.


* These transfers are all mounted on maroon backgrounds. The shade is as good as identical in those marked *, as this was a commonly available colour at the time. other companies used it too. For modelling purposes, LMS maroon (not red!) is commonly available in Britain for LMS models, though I believe there are issues with having it sent by post.


** The shade used by the BCDR (and SLNCR) was marginally darker.



The following vehicles in preservation have the correct shades of paint on them, in the case of UFTM some applied actually by the owning company, which are marked *. Before listing them, I will pay tribute to those who restored them; I am not, by any means, trying to disrespect the superb jobs of restoration by volunteers - having been one myself, and painted many an RPSI vehicle in wrong colours, because it's all the paint they could afford, I wouldn't go there at all! I record the following simply for information.




1. 800* (The "G S" markings are inaccurate and would have applied to the original livery, which was the slightly lighter GSR green)

2. NCC 74* (Painted by the UTA)

3. BCDR 30* (Painted by the UTA, though in original livery, not later very dark green)

4. The CDR railcars there*

5. The narrow gauge Guinness loco

6. The LPHC Derry shunter, No. 1*, still retains its original paint. The dark green it carries is similar to LLSR loco green and may possibly be the same

7. The MGWR "Dargan Saloon" painted by the GSR or CIE, and possibly the same as the short lived MGWR blue, from the "Tourist train" livery*

8. The maroon and cream of the Bessbrook & Newry tramcar

9. The Fintona Tram*




1. The Dublin & KIngstown coach. It was painted, I think, by CIE, but the D & K usually painted third class coaches green, as far as I know

2. The C & L locomotive - I suspect the green is too light


Known to be wrong:


1. The CIE brake van. Grey too light, white instead of yellow lines on ducket (and has it a black chassis?)

2. CDR open wagon. While grey paint is actually original, at some stage in its preservation it has been given black ironwork

3. C & L coach. Modern arial pattern white lettering is wholly inaccurate, and the maroon, while OK for GSR era, isn't what they had in C & L days

4. The Castlederg & Victoria Bridge coach - as per the C & L coach, though to be fair the exact shade of maroon hasn't survived


Downpatrick & Co Down


1. The diesels (except G611), though the orange on A39 is the later shade from "Supertrain" times; the original was a bit duller or more brownish.

2. GSWR coach 836 had, in its last colour scheme, exact GSWR deep browny maroon. I haven't seen it myself since its recent repaint.

3. The BCDR stock, lining and lettering included. As a general rule, dark yellow lining without coat of arms, gold with it (earlier period)


Known to be wrong:


1. Coach 728 - UTA green was slightly darker, as on the RPSI Whitehead set and various preserved buses

2. Coach 3223 - what's on it is suitable for the earlier style of full lining, but with the style carried it should be the lighter green

3. The NCC brake van - grey way too light, and black ironwork is wrong. That light grey was briefly used for PW stock by NIR about 1969-75, nothing else.




1. The blue on GNR locos, and all other livery details

2. The grey on 186

3. The maroon or GNR navy & cream on Whitehead heritage NCC stock

4. The blue on the Guinness engine

5. It's that long since I've had a mooch round Whitehead I can't remember what else is there livery wise!


Known to be wrong:


1. No. 3 "Harvey" was painted a darker green in use; see LPHC No. 1 in Cultra. I remember seeing it on arrival at Whitehead years ago like this

2. The green on 461. It was copied from a model, not the real thing; a quick look at 800 in Cultra would have delivered the correct shade.

3. The UTA dining car, now an exhibition vehicle, no. 87. Spent all its preservation life in NCC livery, but was built three years after the NCC ceased to exist. Ran in UTA green from new, later NIR ivory grey and maroon.

4. The "Harvey" brake van. The inside vestibule should be grey, not cream; no brake vans ever had cream except inside the van. And those zebra stripes, which jar the vision every time!! The thing should be grey all over, lower body included. The GNR, UTA and CIE never picked out ironwork in black on anything!





Other random notes:


LLSR - used normal wagon grey on coaches in latter days.


The CDRJC red / red and cream livery only appeared, like GNR loco blue, in the early 1930s. Prior to that, CDR locos were a very attractive black lined in yellow and red, not unlike the DSER in shades, though differing in pattern. CDR carriages were at various times black (yes!) or black with cream upper panels, and before that brown, another very common colour used back in the day.


The RPSI coach livery of blue and cream should not be confused with the GNR one of navy blue and cream.


It is probable that liveries on the following, which started life as a fairly dark maroon, tended to adopt a very slight brownish tint as they weathered: GSR, SLNCR, CVR and BCDR. the chemical composition of red-tinted paints at the time was prone to this. Colour photos of SLNCR coaches in later years, when they hadn't seen a paintbrush for aeons, show what was initially a very rich claret colour faded to a wishy-washy browny red, almost indistinguishable from brake dust!


The green on BCDR's No. 30 in Cultra is probably similar to MGWR green, as it dates from this period. It may even be similar to pre-1880 GSWR green. BCDR locos were a very much darker green after about 1935, which could weather to an almost black colour. This, itself, was probably along the lines of LLSR loco green, if not darker again. A model of a BCDR loco in the 1940s, for example, would require a green several shades darker than UTA green.


GSWR / GSR / CIE loco grey was a shade darker than wagon grey, and is accurately represented on the RPSI's 186. It is better to paint a model in a lighter shade and weather it, than paint it nearly black first, as this looks way too dark on a model. With a single exception (of a J15 repainted very late in the day, about 1961, in Cork), these locos had grey smokeboxes, not the normal black, and they always had grey internal gubbins and connecting rods, not red as was common with other liveries.


Hope this is of use.

Edited by jhb171achill
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1. The diesels (except G611), though the orange on A39 is the later shade from "Supertrain" times; the original was a bit duller or more brownish.


On A39 there is original supertrain/tan orange underneath the skirt but it doesn't appear to match what's on her now. The roundel on G617 is the lighter MK3/tippex shade of orange.



Edited by Glenderg
Edited for clarity.
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Yes, Glenderg, that would be right. I would always repeat, though, that I have nothing but admiration for all involved in voluntary work on these restoration projects, and the ITG's work on old diesels is exemplary.


The roundel on G617 was hand painted, rather than being an actual transfer.


Fully agreed JB. I spent a day there not so long ago, and they couldn't have been more generous with their time, or war stories :P Next time I'm up, I'll bring a colour chart!

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