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British Railways Departmental Stock Liveries

NB The colours used were obtained by sampling colour pictures, they may however vary from the true colour, use as a rough guide only

The original standard for BR departmental stock was black, this changed in the mid 1960's to red body work with black underframes and white lettering but this livery was not widely applied. This changed again in about 1967 to olive green, sometimes referred to as 'olive drab'. In both cases of course these changes took time. The BR 'fish' names continue to be painted on the sides of many vehicles throughout this period.

The vehicles were allocated to specific departments and there was usually a letter or letters placed on the side to indicate this, a large letter E means the wagon is allocated to the Civil Engineers department, EM is the rolling stock people, ST is signal and telegraph department and OD is the operating department. After these letters was another indicating their region, E, M, W S and Sc (for Scottish).

Departmental stock often featured both complicated lettering and coloured shapes (indicating specific allocations) but after the introduction of TOPS the regional allocations were abandoned as all departmental stock was pooled. The old regional markings and additional markings gradually got painted out.

The D prefix to the number was also changed, the plain D meant the vehicle was the service of the Chief Civil Engineer, dealing with track, bridges, buildings and the like. AD meant the vehicle was allocated to the Chief Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, who deals with rolling stock, KD is for signal and telegraph department stock, LD is stock used in electrification projects, and TD is operations department stock.

As noted above just because a vehicle is marked as belonging to a particular depot or even a particular train, for example a breakdown train, does not mean that's where it will be found, these things tend to wander about rather a lot.

In the early 1980's the departmental colour scheme changed again to light grey and yellow, this was an adaptation of the Railfreight livery with the lower sides of the vehicle being grey with a yellow band above. The first vehicles to use this revised scheme were bogie ballast hoppers, painted in 1981, but the livery was applied to other vehicles as they came in for re-painting or repair in the 1980's. Some vehicles had additional markings applied on the yellow band.

The S&T department later adopted a variation on the engineers grey/yellow livery with a basic red body with yellow top strip. One example was an old twelve foot wheelbase pipe wagon, available as a kit from Parkside Dundas, parked in Manchester Piccadilly station in the early 1990's.
Fig ___ SATLINK wagon

SATLINK wagon at Picadilly in the early 1990s

This had the top three planks painted yellow with the word SATLINK in black about twelve inches (30 cm) high on the left, SAT in this case refers to the 'signal and telegraph' department.

In practice the livery often wore off rather quickly on wagons in more arduous service, the examples below were photographed in the mid 1990s passing through Stockport station.

Fig ___ Air braked PLAICE ballast wagons

Plaice wagons in old BR livery photographed in later 1990s

Large self-powered machines such as cranes and specialised mechanical track maintenance vehicles are painted yellow with black markings, although I have not been able to confirm the exact date this was introduced it was certainly the norm by the 1970's. The track cleaning machines, trench digging machines and what have you were introduced in the early 1960's, following a small number built in Britain British Railways settled on machines built by the Austrian firm Plasser.

See also 'Track - Buffer stops and Track Maintenance Personnel & Equipment' for photographs of these large machines

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