I’m currently pondering what colour I should use for the body of my Broad Gauge ‘Rob Roy’. References to the colour originally used on Broad Engines declare it to have been ‘Holly Green’ but opinions differ on what shade that name represents.
According to Christopher Awdry’s book: ‘Brunel’s Broad Gauge Railway’, the Boiler Cladding was ‘Holly Green (Dark Blue/Green)’ until 1881, after which ‘Chrome Green’ was adopted. (he quotes the Broad Gauge Society as the source of this information). It interests me to observe that the ‘GWR Wolverhampton Green’ is also frequently described as a ‘blue/green’ hue, so might the original Broad Gauge colour have been more akin to this Wolverhampton colour than we now realise?
I found some support for this view from an unexpected source. The ‘new’ Great Western railway franchise adopted a new corporate livery in 2015, which is claimed to have been based on the original Broad Gauge engine colour - see https://www.pentagram.com/work/great-western-railway-1/story for more information. I quote: "A bespoke paint has been created for train liveries based on the original ‘dark holly green’ used on the first GWR locomotives." What the sources for the chosen colour were is not revealed but it seems very unlikely that the present colour has anything to do with the original Victorian pigments. The ‘new’ GWR colour is defined in the Wikipedia UK Railways/Colours list as #0a493e, which can also de defined as RGB= 10, 73, 62 or HSL= 170°, 86%, 29%
When I place this colour against the GWR Chrome Green colour described on the GWR Modelling website the result is somewhat startling. Were early GWR engines really this blue?
One point to consider is the effect of ‘brightness’ on the perceived hue. As I explain on my website about colour perception , the human concept of colour can be divided into ‘colour’ and ‘brightness’ (or ‘luminosity’). If we maintain a constant ‘colour’ but vary the brightness, perception of the colour can vary considerably, as shown below:
To my eyes, at least, the colour does appear more definitely ‘green’ as the luminosity decreases and all the reports of early engine colours agree that they were darker than the later chrome green.
Another colour to consider is the modern interpretation of ‘Holly Green’, described as British Standard BS 4800 14 C 39 - Holly green / Hollybush / #435d50 Hex Colour Code. (RGB= 26, 36, 31). The ‘Encycolorpedia’ website also shows the effect of variations, as shown below, which confirms that darker colours tend to look more green.
Finally, I went out into my garden, where there is a real Holly tree, and photographed some leaves, together with seasonal berries.
These leaves have a greater green content than the various ‘official’ colours and I find their colour rather pleasing. I thought I’d see what this colour looks like when applied (by Photoshop) to my (still unfinished) model:
In the end, I shall probably look along the array of ‘rattle cans’ in the local motorists shop and make a personal choice, relying on the fact that no-one will be able to contradict me with any confidence.