Re: Invisible green [was RE: [IrishThreeFoot] NCC Class S and 4-4-2T locos]

Colin Rainsbury

Thanks to everyone involved, I now have access to most of the drawings or I shall have at some point, the only one giving a bit of hassle is the S1 drawing, but I think I will need to consult with photos and known details about this one.

Colin Rainsbury 

On Tue, 21 Jan 2020 at 15:59, Alan O'Rourke <alanorourke@...> wrote:

Then there was Stroudley’s “improved engine green,” which was yellow ochre. Two theories here:

  • Stroudley was colour-blind.
  • It was his joke that he had invented an “improvement” on the various shades of green used by most other railways: even the Midland painted its engines green until 1883. Over at Crewe, Mr Webb had pre-empted Henry Ford: “You can have your engine any colour you like as long as it’s black.”


In its early years the BNCR continued with the Belfast & Ballymena Railway livery of “fairly light green” lined yellow, blue and vermillion. Over the years, the shade used seems to have got darker (Dow, G (1975) Midland Style Historical Model Railway Society, p 88-90 for full details of lining etc). If anyone has The Locomotive Vol 18 for 1912, one issue apparently has an excellent colour plate of CDR 2-6-4T no 21 in lined black livery.


According to Bill Scott’s book on NCC locos, the BNCR used a “very dark green” livery, lined crimson, blue and yellow.  I attach a scan of a colour plate of BNCR No 62 which appeared as a frontispiece to the Railway Magazine, May 1903. But, be aware:

  • Colour reproduction in 1903 was not an exact process
  • The print is 117 years old and may have discoloured
  • There may be some distortion in scanning.


This looks like a dark green, lined red and cream: I am not convinced I can see any blue lining. In The Ballycastle Lines, EM Patterson calls the BNCR colour “dark laurel green.”


After 1903, the MR-NCC introduced the “invisible green” which seems to have been even darker and was described as often appearing almost black, but in brighter light it looked a dark, oily green. My best guess is that this might be close to colour Humbrol sold in the 1970s called “Southern Railway Olive Green.” Scan of sample of this attached, but may also be distorted by scanning. The trouble with “olive green” is that while all black olives are black, “green” ones range from bright sage green through khaki to a dark brownish-green, the colour of some frogs…..okay so maybe “frog-coloured” is not a very helpful descriptive term either.


The Portstewart tramway engine preserved in the Streetlife Museum of Transport, in Hull, is in NCC-MR dark green livery, so I will try and get over and match some colour cards later in the year. The other Portstewart tramway loco in Cultra (from what I can find on line) is lettered BNCR, but the livery looks like a very bright, almost emerald, green: maybe an imaginative restoration?


After 1924, it is easier as the NCC went over to LMS crimson for passenger engines. Mr Scott does not mention if black was used on goods engines and narrow gauge ones, but the mixed traffic moguls all went into service in crimson lake. Patterson suggests the NG engines were finished in passenger colours under the BNCR and MR-NCC; and the NG compounds were painted crimson lake as shopped in 1925-30. Unlined black was applied to all NG engines painted after the outbreak of WW2.


So, there we are…another shade of green to argue about alongside the CIE ones!


Rgds Alan



Sent from Mail for Windows 10


From: Laurence Wheeler
Sent: 12 January 2020 12:49
Subject: Re: [IrishThreeFoot] NCC Class S and 4-4-2T locos


In a dusty file I have come across a drawing by B. Heaven of the S class compound. Somewhat in the mould of the famous Skinley drawings, but not as good.
I have uploaded two halves of this drawing to the NCC locos file as part a and b. Hope this helps. I love the description if the livery as "invisible green". Tops even some of the more silly names like "improved engine green".
The MRN article referred to was August 1965. There is also a comprehensive article in Railway World August 1986.


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