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The 1960s on CIE

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Many of us are looking forward to the Murphy Models 121s (I got mine today!) to the much-awaited grey 121s appearing, plus the rest of them in due course.


Now, a grey one obviously isn't going to realistically run along at the head of a sleek set of black'n'tan Cravens; that livery was two years into the future, as were Cravens themselves! No bogie wagons either, and no brown ones...... so what DID run with them when new, and as they held sway throughought the "Swinging Sixties"?


What follows applies, of course, equally to the forthcoming silver, green, black, and black'n'tan "A" class - and for those who have the likes of their Silverfox cousins, B101, "G" and "C" classes.


The first thing - for modellers who have had fewer birthdays (and decades!) than I, is that the entire railway system changed more in the early 1970s than even at the end of steam. Block trains of uniform stock only then appeared and became the norm; a concept totally unknown when the first 121s roared up to Dundalk with a good train (they worked goods before they ever worked passenger!). Sidings and small stations dramatically reduced and eventually vanished. In both goods and passenger trains, barely two vehicles were alike, such was the huge variety of stock.


Unlike today, when each type of train has different couplings, ALL railway vehicles, north, south, east and west, used exactly the same couplings, so the idea of incompatibility between couplings simply didn't exist. At all.


If a modeller had limitless skill, limitless time, limitless budget and limitless imagination, it would still be a hard ask to reproduce this period in all its detail. So I thought I'd fish out a few more pics as well as the ones I posted during the lockdown, but with more of an emphasis on the 1960s - the period when the "grey'n'green" era would morph into the "black'n'tan" era. My earliest railway memories belong to this time, and thus is my preferred period, but the real point is that opinion or not, this was the most varied time in the railway - arguably ever.


Many books are full of photos of the time, and I would recommend detailed perusal of photos in them all - always look what's in the background! 

To try to cut through a mass of information for modellers who get the grey or black'n'tan 121s, and who get the pre-"supertrain" liveries on the IRM "A"s, a few simple broad pointers, first - exceptions existed, but this gives the broad gist:




1960    "A" and B101 classes dominate most main line goods train, with AEC railcars dominating most passenger trains, though loco-hauled too. Some steam still, mostly on branches like the North Wexford, Ardee, Ballaghaderreen, Ballinrobe, Kenmare, and Loughrea. Almost no regular steam anywhere else, though ballast and (seasonally) beet brings them out of the woodwork. They almost all look extremely run-down. Many six-wheel carriages are still in use - the passenger brakes being mostly GSWR, and the passenger-carrying ones mostly Midland. The vast majority of these six-wheelers are in Cork, and used on Cobh commuter trains at rush hour, and summer Youghal excursions. All goods trains are loose-coupled, and shunting and spare locos are based all over the place, with many steam sheds still being open to cater for them. All wagons are grey, without any exceptions, all passenger stock is green, except for a small few still not repainted from the short-lived "silver" (which is now filthy nondescript grey), and around the former-GNR lines, and the DSER, a few ex-GNR coaches still in either brown or dark blue and cream.

Everything has guard's vans. There is no such thing as air-braking, nor will there be for many years. All goods train are loose-coupled, so must have a goods brake at the end, unless it's maybe a single goods wagon tacked onto the back of a passenger train, as sometimes happened. All passenger trains will have a guard's coach, almost always a six-wheel passenger brake of GSWR parentage, or a modern "tin van".


1961    121s appear. The grey Murphy ones! They will retain this livery for a few years, with repaints to black'n'tan between 1964/5 and about 1968. So, a clean 121 will have green coaches and loose-coupled wagons with guard's van. Other diesels are a mixture of either silver or green. Nothing orange and black for a good while yet.


1962    Towards the end of the year, a decision is taken to bring in the black'n'tan livery, which has been applied to a few coaches.


1963    The 141s start entering traffic, and a major drive appears to take place to repaint carriages in black'n'tan. The last passenger-carrying six-wheelers are withdrawn in Cork in the spring, leaving about six or seven full-brake six wheel coaches in the new livery; the last of these will survive until 1968/9 on the Galway line.


Working steam comes to an end after 129 years. By this stage, steam working has actually become extremely rare, with the few branchlines where it eked out its last days now closed or made goods-only.


And the new livery intrudes into a world of grey'n'green:


B101, E, A & C class locos start being painted black'n'tan; after a while, some will be repainted all-black, and after that some - but not all - of the A & C classes will get the yellow patches. The new "Craven" coaches appear; at first, and for a good few years, they will only be seen on main lines. Thus, laminates and Park Royals, plus still a few wooden bogies and Bredins, provide the stock for the majority of trains, and all secondary services.


1964/5   By now, something over half of the passenger stock is in the new livery, the rest green; thus, a grey 121 will need at least SOME green carriages! Many tin vans retain increasingly shoddy "silver", others are green, and others again in BnT. All good remains loose-coupled, and the "palvans" are introduced.


1967     The 181s appear. By now, the very first cement bubbles do too - they run a few at a time in ordinary goods trains, or as a set - but not in braked block trains - thus, a guard's van is necessary with the initial (grey) ones (as it is with beet trains!). Talking of which, open wagons are now about two-thirds "Bulleid" corrugated types, with the rest wooden-sided traditional ones, mostly of 1940s Inchicore construction.


1969/70  It's beginning to look more modern now. The 4-wheel "back-to-backs", containers, and the longer-wheelbase four wheel flats are appearing. The re-engining programme is making B201s out of the "C" class, and AxxR out of the "A" class, with the all-black loco livery finally disappearing in favour of everything being variations (high and low waistband) of black'n'tan. The new NIR "Enterprise" heralds the first example of British-outline standard trains of a same type of coach. The bubbles are being repainted orange body and grey chassis, with the newest ones delivered that way, and containers are becoming more common. The die is cast; in only 2 years' time, we'll have the Mk 2s and "supertrains".


The wagons start being repainted brown. By the end of loose-coupled trains in 1976, about two thirds were brown, the rest still grey, with even a tiny few still with flying snails.


BR and Dutch vans start appearing; now, the tin vans start retiring. The last will still be in use on Ballina - Limerick - Rosslare in 1976/7. But for the 1960s they really ARE needed as models!




Apart from details mentioned above, the simplest summary would be:




A, C, B101:  Silver new, repaints into green from 1958, with the last few C's entering traffic green.

121: Grey and yellow at start - first to be black'n'tan 1964 or 5; last about 1968/9.

141 / 181: Black'n'tan from new. 1412s have no CIE badge when delivered (the "roundel" has not yet been invented!) but the 181s do, and at that stage they start putting them on the 141s too.

Oddballs: The three E401s / G601s - silver, green, black. Never black'n'tan. The seven G611s - black or black'n'tan always, never green. E421s - black or black'n'tan always. The "K" class - GNR navy, then CIE green, then all black.




Sixwheelers - all green to the end (1963) except for the half dozen full brakes which stayed on during the 60s - they got black'n'tan by 1964.

Wooden carriages - those in traffic got black'n'tan by 1968 or were scrapped.


Bredins, Park Royals, all the many types of laminates, Cravens - all black'n'tan. First ones 1963, last green ones about 1967.



Grey. Nothing brown at all until 1970s, thus long after grey 121s were black'n'tan. 



Train Consists

Now, these are TYPICAL: by NO means exhaustive, as readers will appreciate!


Passenger trains


Main line:

121, Crossley "A" or 141, maybe nine carriages plus vans: 

Tin van




Park Royal





Dining car - several old wooden GSWR ones in use, plus the CIE 2400-series, like the one at Downpatrick.

Tin heating van

Mail van extra? Bogie of GSR or early CIE origin.


Secondary or branch line:

Two to five coaches plus tin van. Coaches will be old wooden bogies, laminates, Park Royals occasionally, or laminates of various types. Greater number of still-green stock! Loco - "C", 121 or 141.




Mostly "A" class, green or black. Old guard's vans gone by about 1964, with standard CIE 20T and 30T types all over the place. Last GNR ones scrapped, not that CIE ever used them much!


While many modern layouts have the various types of modern bright yellow maintenance train consists, in the 1960s all PW and maintenance stuff was - you guessed it - grey! BUT - sadly - instead of a train of pristine HOBS, I've yet to see modelled that all-too-familiar sight coming out of a junction in the 1960s - a dirty "C" class with the LIFTING train from a closed branch!


The following from a large amount of new material that I am going through, copyright P Dillon Collection:


It is THIS world into which the brand new grey 121 class "yanks" appeared. How very different from the world they left about fifteen years ago.


The very last photo shows a scene so rare, it may be unique. A NEWLY-PAINTED grey J15 in Cork - one of the last few steam engines painted, and which would be scrapped only months later, with a GSWR bogie in quite new black'n'tan. The first black'n'tan stock appeared only a year or so before the last steam engine was withdrawn. In this instance, the steam engine is on shunting duties. See how clean "new" grey paint looked!


The "pair" of 141s shown was the exception rather than the rule (note carriages mostly green when THEY came into traffic too).


The sliding door "Palvan" goods vans were introduced in 1965. Naturally, they are grey.


The cement hopper in the third picture has an "N" after the number, indicating that it is a former GNR vehicle. 


The 6-wheel full brake in the 5th pic is of the last type of six-wheeler to run. All remaining passenger-carrying ones were withdrawn in 1963, but about six of this type (GSWR origin) became the only six-wheelers to be repainted black'n'tan, and the last of them was only withdrawn about 1968. A colour pic of one is at the end of these views.



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This shows how UTTERLY essential "tin vans" are to ANY 1960s passenger train scene - silver, then green, then black'n'tan. These pics (c. P Dillon Collection) were taken in 1960 / 1961.


They ran with old non-corridor wooden coaches, steam hauled, when new; within a few years they were rattling along at the back of main line expresses to Cork behind grey, and then black'n'tan 121s, and the 141 / 181 / A classes. The very last of them survived to be hauled by 141s in "Supertrain" livery, and just narrowly missed the possibility of 071 haulage! These vans are now the biggest missing gap in RTR Irish models.


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The "Palvans" were new in 1965.


Over their lives, door and end details would have a number of quite significant variations. Being 1965, these did not, of course, ever carry "flying snails", but they plus standard "H" vans had a CIE roundel with a tan surround instead of white, but white letters. Detail for modellers!


And of course, none of the BR-style black chassis, so beloved of Hornby and BR!



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The standard CIE cattle wagon - very noticeably different from British designs, so for a modeller the provincial Wagons kit is the only show in town.


Palvan again, and ending with a sight so rare as to be almost unique. Not only a steam engine with a coach in black'n'tan, which obviously dates the picture to 1962 ONLY, but a newly painted steam engine.


Probably the last steam loco painted by CIE, in that year. The coach is a GSWR type.


From 1956 onwards, the very few CIE steam engines which saw a paintbrush were given a smart coat of plain black, as opposed to the standard grey in use going back to late GSWR days. However, in 1962, this loco plus, I think, one other, as a final fling were turned out again in the traditional grey, as seen, and with no "flying snail". Less than a year later this loco was one of the last steam engines in use, and thus withdrawn in March '63 after the beet season ended.


By now, the grey 121s were all in service some 2 years.


(Photos c. P. Dillon Collection).

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6 hours ago, kirley said:

Thanks for the information JHB and some excellent photographs


Once I get time, I will be going right through this collection. It's all black and white, and almost all taken between approximately 1955 and 1962, but there's a few either side of it, e.g. the "palvans" above (which were 1965).


There's a good bit of Cavan & Leitrim, Donegal and Tralee & Dingle, and a little West Clare too, from memory.


I'm actually working on three other projects right now, so it's on the list!

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Three CIE livery oddities.


1. An old CBSCR coach, pictured at Albert Quay in 1960 or 1961. This vehicle has been repainted in the OLD darker green, but with no lining. It has two light green "flying snails" which appear to be painted on, as the customary gold lining around the transfers doesn't seem to be there. This is one of a set of old relics which were retained for the Courtmacsherry excursions which last ran in 1960, months before closure in March 1961. At least two other old coaches were also painted with the older (pre-1955) green colour, but with no "flyings snails" or even numbers on the doors - just plain dark green with the carriage number. This livery was non-standard and apart from these West Cork examples, I have only seen it on one or two coaches on the West Clare and the Cavan and Leitrim "bus-coach".


2. When the first Park Royals entered traffic, the very first few were in unpainted silver, but were VERY quickly repainted green. The vast majority of them entered service in green to start with; indeed, these were (in 1955) the forst vehicles to wear the new lighter green with simplified lining. The picture below is the first I have come across with very clear evidence of this. The coach number on the end nearest the camera, and the "2" numbers on the doors, not yet applied, were very briefly in RED rather than light green "eau-de-nil". No "flying snails" were ever applied to any Park Royals on account of the rib design in the middle.


3. A Cavan & Leitrim coach on a Dromod - Ballinamore local train in 1959. The original C & L stock had a livery variation all of their own. They had the standard pre-1955 darker green, with the standard light green numerals and logos, but the light green lining, normally at waist level AND above windows, was only in the latter location.


Now, finally: QUIZ QUESTION! What, and where, and when?


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6 hours ago, jhb171achil said:

Now, finally: QUIZ QUESTION! What, and where, and when?


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The answer to 'what?' is probably the CIE Radio Train;




Where & when, I've no idea.  The coach may be ex WLWR saloon 935, there is an undated picture of it in 'Irish Broad Gauge Carriages' D Coakham, ISBN 1 85780 175 x, in use as a mobile studio.

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Correct, Moxy & Others! It is indeed the Radio Train.


As to the carriage, I am not sure. The Radio Train was mostly laminates of several types, though very obviously this is a much older (wooden) coach converted. It may well be 935, though there were a number of coaches. I can't help feeling that it is more likely (from the design) to be a GSWR design, but I'd need to delve.

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On ‎13‎/‎09‎/‎2020 at 19:07, divibandit said:

Great pictures,

Have you seen this book?

It's mainly about A and C class locos with a section about BR Co-Bos (they were Metro-Vick too!).

I also found this flyer on the floor of Botanic station in Belfast in 1978, that loco would have been interesting!





Expect to see more of those photos in due course..............  ;-)

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8 hours ago, jhb171achil said:

And today's contribution from the P Dillon archive - this was obviously taken in Dundalk, but date is unknown, as is the identity of the railcar as it has not yet had its number added.



Looking at this, I would suggest it’s when the Railcar was delivered in 1950. It has the original windscreen wipers and the Bogie is spotless in silver.



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2 hours ago, jhb171achil said:

Indeed, it is clearly new....and look at the reflection in the paintwork - one of the older railcars!

I would suggest that the railcar directly behind the AEC is the rear end of railcar C1. Looking at the window arrangement, the railcar to the right looks like either railcar F or G.

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I would entirely agree about the year being 1950. The photo was taken in the Diesel Shop at Dundalk Works as evidenced by Railcar 'C 1' and one of the triplet type behind it.


Below is a Kelland Collection photograph dated May 1950 of No. 601 with no number on the front. It has been lifted from the revised Patterson GNR(I) book. Bear in mind that No. 601 was the second one delivered. JHB's photo may well be the first, No. 600.




They were delivered with numbers on them. The following is from Rails Around Belfast.




There is a Patterson photo dated 1951 which shows one of the last cars to be delivered at the Dundalk Diesel Shop with the number painted on the front panel. So was the provision of the running number on the front panel an immediate GNR modification to the AEC spec they were delivered in?  



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The roof trusses in the photo I posted also confirm Dundalk.


Damn! I knew THREE people who could have told us all exactly what numbers were on what, and when; but all have gone to their well-deserved reward!


I wonder what the blue & cream coach is on the right - probably a railcar intermediate - and beyond the partition - something has a headboard on with "Belfast" written on it, amongst other stuff................

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