Page header

An A4 by Any Other Name

Part Three

Having by now got you thoroughly confused with all the E/O Numbers, Works Numbers, and then the tangle of Running Numbers, I will simplify matters by only using the Running Numbers, as first allotted to the engines as they left the Works, during this discourse on Names and Liveries.

The first four engines were primarily built to haul the Silver Jubilee train and were given names with a Silver theme: 2509 Silver Link, 2510 Quicksilver, 2511 Silver King, 2512 Silver Fox. Well, Silver Link, yes, after all it was a Silver Train linking two cities. Quicksilver, yes, it conveys the impression of the speed of the train. Silver King, yes, the train was a celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the King’s accession to the Throne. Silver Fox, well, apart from the Silver in the name, there does not seem to be a link (sorry) to Speed or Royalty. Could it be that the L.N.E.R. were going to name the first engine Silver Jubilee (the precedent having been set by 4472 Flying Scotsman and the Flying Scotsman train), but found that they had been upstaged by the L.M.S. giving that name to the first engine of their new class of 4-6-0 Passenger engines? The more likely explanation is that Samuel Fox, the stainless steel manufacturers, saw an opportunity to further publicise their wares, by not only providing the stainless steel strip embellishment used on the coach panelling, but also cladding bands for the streamlined boiler casing, and low relief emblems in the form of a running fox, which were positioned beneath the name on the centre cladding panel. This added more visual impact to an already striking design, no doubt the Publicity Department were happy, and as for Samuel Fox & Co. Ltd., one assumes for very little outlay they got a splendid mobile advertising hoarding for their product. (Is it possible that they also supplied the cladding bands to the L.M.S. for the initial Jubilee locomotive??)

Silver Fox

The livery for these first four engines was Silver Grey for the engine and tender above footplate level, Battleship Grey below footplate level, for the aerofoil casing covering the driving wheels, and also the frames to the engine and tender. The bogie, driving, trailing and tender wheels were painted Silver Grey to contrast with the Battleship Grey of the frames. Initially when Silver Link was posed for the official Works Photograph, the smokebox front was finished in Dark Charcoal Grey and this was carried around the sides some three to four inches and paralleled the curve of the streamlined front (see figure 1), and was turned back into the footplate, adjacent to the lamp irons, with a small curve. (See figure 1a) It always seems to have been assumed that the small curve was a continuation of the Dark Charcoal Grey. Having closely studied the Works Photograph, I suggest that in actual fact it was painted as a continuation of the Battleship Grey of the footplate. (See cross hatched area on figure 1a.) Cast nameplates were fixed to the sides of the smokebox, the engine number and company initials being applied in Silver with Blue shading; one curious feature was that the engine number was not applied to the front buffer beam area.


Figure 1 Figure 1a

This livery was deemed unsatisfactory, therefore the Dark Charcoal Grey was extended around the sides of the smokebox, and formed into a broad parabolic curve. (See Figure 2)

Figure 2

The nameplates were removed, and the name was painted on the middle cladding panel, in Silver with Blue shading (believed to be 4 inches high; does anyone have define proof of the size of the letters employed?). This then was the livery applied to the four "Silver" engines. You may have noticed a slight detail difference, in that the buffer stock length in Figure 1 is shorter than in Figure 2. The reason for this is that fitting the standard draw hook and buffers to a buffer beam that was a foot behind the casing resulted in the short projection of the buffers and necessitated forming a recess to get access to the draw hook. This configuration caused problems, it was a tight squeeze getting in safely to couple up, and after an unfortunately fatal accident nine inch longer draw hook and buffers were fitted to solve the problem.

A few years ago Bittern was repainted to represent Silver Link, but excellent as that was, there was an error in that they used the later narrower parabolic curve on the smokebox. However at the National Railway Museum, York, in a display case adjacent to Mallard, is an excellent model of Silver Link in original livery, broad parabolic curve and all.

The next batch of A4s were intended to be used on normal express passenger duties and as such were to receive the appropriate Apple Green livery. Nº4482 duly emerged from works in the Apple Green, with White Black White lining on the cladding bands. The streamlined front was painted Black and this was carried round the sides of the smokebox and finished in a narrower parabolic curve from that used on the initial engines. (Curve approximately as shown for later engines in Figure 4.) The aerofoil casings over the wheels and the frames were Black. The wheels were Apple Green, and the White Black White lining was applied to form a large rectangular panel on the tender. Brass nameplates were fitted to the smokebox sides, and being the first in the "Bird" series of names, took the name of the most powerful British bird, Golden Eagle. Number and logo were in the standard 12 inch high gold transfers with red shading, and the running number was also shown on the front between the buffers. The next engine Nº4483 appeared from Works four days after 4482 with a drastically altered paint scheme (See Figure 3).

Figure 3

The Black paint to the streamlined front was taken round the sides of the smokebox right back to the first cladding band, and also applied to the aerofoil casing and the frames. The engine above the footplate, the tender, and the wheels were all finished in Apple Green. Gold transfers with red shading were used for the running number and logo. Brass nameplates were fixed to the smokebox sides. The following five engines only received this livery, and were given names in the "Bird" series as shown.

No 4483 Kingfisher, No 4484 Falcon, No 4485 Kestrel, No 4486 Merlin, and No 4487 Sea Eagle.

The only bird that seems out of place in the above is Kingfisher, when one considers that the other birds are all powerful birds of prey; however, for its size and weight, the kingfisher is a pretty formidable hunter, and deserves inclusion in the list.

Researched and written by Mel Haigh,
Education Officer, Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Trust Ltd.
First published in Chime 121, Autumn 2001
Continue to Part Four
Return to An A4 by Any Other Name Title Page

Return to top

Copyright © The Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Trust Ltd