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There's Nothing New ...

MikeOxon

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More than three years ago, I wrote about some experiments I did to add to the debate about GWR red wagon livery. I showed photos of wagons at Cinderford Iron Works, taken around 1890, which had marked differences in (monochrome) image tone.

 

CinderfordWagons1890.jpg

 

I thought, at the time, that I was doing some ‘original’ research but recently I have been looking through back issues of the 'Broad Gauge Society' magazine ‘Broadsheet’.  There I found that this ‘well known’ photograph was discussed at length, as part of a series of articles on wagon liveries, as long ago as 2001 (Broadsheet No.45).

 

Brian Arman wrote “This photograph is the one frequently claimed [my italics] to be an example of red and grey wagons intermixed. I presume that the wagons supposed to be grey appear to be a darker shade, as in the fourth wagon from the left on the near siding, and the second and fourth vehicles in the back siding. However, following John’s photographic searches we may confidently surmise [my italics] that these vehicles are in all probability simply newly painted as opposed to ‘re-liveried’. The positioning of the lettering varies from wagon to wagon, and adds an element of further interest to the photograph. In fact the whole scene is full of historical interest ...”

 

His conclusions are exactly the opposite of mine, since I thought the darker shade was caused because the photographic emulsions of the time were colour-blind to red!

 

RedWagonComparison.jpg

 

We are still left with the conundrum that the different styles of lettering appear on wagons of both shades, on the Cinderford photograph, which seems to mitigate against the idea that the dark shade is simply the result of more recent painting. Surely, lettering styles changed at specific dates – or did they replace the lettering in the ‘old’ positions when re-painting (or relivery-ing)?

 

So, although I had discovered nothing new, the photograph still presents a puzzle and may indeed show both red and grey wagons – but which is which?

 

Mike

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I contended and still maintain that what we see here is a mix of some recently-painted wagons (dark, possibly with a glossier appearance) and well-worn wagons that have been in traffic a good while and have lost their shine. I note that those are also older types. Two of the darker wagons are iron-framed wagons - the 4-plank wagon can be no more than a couple of years old. The 3-plank wagon with straight end must be old series Lot 284 or later; it's got a low number - 260? Most lots had numbers in continuous runs in various 5-digit blocks but the last three lots (together with some others) are listed by Atkins as "various". Production of 3-plank wagons ceased in 1887; this wagon could be only three years old.

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Another revelation (for me) from the early 'Broadsheet' No.6 (1981) is that an early painting specification for an Iron Goods Break Van of 1852 states that:

 

"The whole of the van including the wheels, axles, axleboxes, side springs and every part [my italics] .... brown colour and figures as might be directed,"  The scheme for other wagons is stated to be similar.

 

The same article also states that:

 

"Just when the red livery was introduced is still to be discovered, but the evidence suggests brown from the 1840s until the middle 1860s. It's tempting to speculate that the red was an all over colour scheme [my italics] giving a continuity of single colour livery throughout the G.W.R's existence."

 

All this is strong support for all over red, rather than red with black underframe, as some have suggested.

 

Mike

Edited by MikeOxon
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5 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

Oh bother.

 

I'm sure you are not alone :)

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For some reason that I cannot recollect, the Iron Mink on the left escaped the black paint. Also, I was asserting recently that I'd painted the roofs of my Iron Minks red as they were iron so why would they be painted differently to the rest of the wagon? (I've since seen conclusive evidence that the roofs of Iron Minks in grey with 25" initials were white.)

 

I must be loosing my grip.

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Always remember the first rule of railway modelling - it's your railway ...

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True, but I want my models to be as historically correct as the available information and the compromises of scale and gauge permit. That's Rule 1 for me. Rule 2 is to remember that other people's rulebooks may have a different Rule 1.

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Someone suggested on Castle Aching that it would be an idea to look at wagons that were known to be red from other companies and see how they appeared on the old emulsions.  I can think of several reasons why this would not work but if you could find a photograph of a known grey wagon, eg., Cambrian against a known red wagon, eg. GWR 1890, then you might have a definitive answer.

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That was me. I don't think it would work in fact unless one was comparing wagons in similar condition - probably only ex-works would give a fair comparison.

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It could work if you had several wagons in the photo, and several photos, all of the same two companies.  

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1 hour ago, Compound2632 said:

True, but I want my models to be as historically correct as the available information and the compromises of scale and gauge permit. That's Rule 1 for me. Rule 2 is to remember that other people's rulebooks may have a different Rule 1.

The trouble is that the 'available information' is inconclusive, so we each have to make our own judgements.

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For what it's worth, my own view of the photos shown above is that all of the wagons would be red.

My understanding is that the grey livery came in with the large 25" lettering in 1904 (or perhaps with the cast plates in the mid-late 1890's). The wagons all show the smaller G.W.R lettering which apart from brake vans (which are reported to have been grey for a period prior to the switch over) I've assumed would be red.

Ian

PS luckily I've adopted an all over colour for both my red and grey wagons.

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Thanks Mike, good to see some opinions from the Broad Gauge debates.

 

In the two articles you quote, I note the words "surmise" and "speculate" respectively. I appreciate that, since overly assertive statements about liveries always make me a bit sceptical (I don't mean anyone here).

 

The evidence is certainly building for all over red. Maybe the Barry Railway really were unique.

 

@Compound2632 that image of your wagons is superb!

 

 

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

15 hours ago, ChrisN said:

It could work if you had several wagons in the photo, and several photos, all of the same two companies.  

 

Interesting idea. If there was a significant number of photos and a clear consistent pattern of difference it would at least indicate some sort of difference in the painting scheme. I suppose the trouble would be whether the difference was in fact red vs grey, or simply "medium grey" vs "darker medium grey" or two coats of varnish vs three coats. 

 

It's tempting to have a go though!

 

PS: Just had a quick peruse of my wagon livery folder. One stumbling block: This was pre-pooling, so there are few photos showing GWR wagons with other companies' wagons.

 

Edited by Mikkel
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