New ItemThe best information is in Southern Style Part Two - London, Brighton and South Coast Railway by Peter Wisdom. This is the first publication dedicated to the description of LB&SCR livery and associated topics of the company's style.

It is very difficult to ascertain the exact colours used for various liveries, especially a century after their use. If you are building a model, then your idea of the colour (unless a good colour matched sample still exists) is probably as good as anyone elses.

In the following descriptions of the liveries of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, the dates of livery changes given are approximate. It will take some years after the boardroom decision is made for all the relevant vehicles to conform to the new livery.


Pre 1870

The London and Brighton Railway used a locomotive livery of dark green with or without black bands. However some engines ran in other liveries:

London and Croydon Railway engines were painted sea-green with black lining, except Hercules which was a pale chocolate.

The LB&SCR used a dark bottle green with fine red and gold lines for passenger engines. Framing and footplate interior was crimson, buffers and buffer beam bright red and the wheels black. Goods engines were black with red and white lining, unless visible from the passenger platforms at Brighton or London Bridge, when they were to be dark green. Some engines carried brass numbers on their chimney fronts, others had painted figures on the buffer beam. Numbers also appeared on footplate sidesheets and on the side of the boiler barrels.

When Craven took over the colour became Brunswick Green, lined out with broad black bands having a fine white line each side. Frames, buffer beams, insides of weatherboards, wheel bosses and coupling rods were crimson lake. Some boilers were lagged with highly polished mahogany with brass straps. Others had painted wooden lagging with alternate vermillion and sage green strips. Copper and brass domes were highly burnished as were other metal fittings. Some numbers were painted on with decorative surrounds, others had brass oval numberplates.

By the time Stroudley took over the Brunswick Green has become much deeper (similar to that used on the SE&CR). Some locomotives, however, were still painted in other colours:


In the Stroudley and R.J. Billinton period we have the famous Stroudley "Improved Engine Green", actually a golden yellow ochre. This colour has given rise to numerous disputes. There are theories that he was colour-blind or that to get the board's approval he described it as: "an Improvement on (the existing) Engine Green" - hence "Improved Engine Green". Stroudley had used the yellow ochre livery on the Highland Railway previously, so the answer probably lies in their minute books. In H.J. Campbell Cornwall's book, he suggests that the "Improved Engine Green" also known as "Scotch Green", referred to the goods colour which was a shade darker than that used by Craven.

The best colour match for "Improved Engine Green" is probably the model of Como in Brighton Museum. This was reputedly painted by Brighton works when the colour was still in use. Gladstone in the National Railway Museum at York was painted at a later date and may not be as accurate in colour. However, both will have aged over the last 70-100 years and so will not be a reliable indication of what the colour was like when in use.

For passenger classes the "Improved Engine Green" was lined out with with dark olive green borders lined out with vermillion, black and white. Frames were black on the outside and vermillion on the inside. The frame angle, buffers and outsides of the buffer beams were claret, with the framing lined in yellow, black and vermillion. Cab roofs were white.

Goods classes were dark olive green with black bands and borders. Apparently, the "Goods Green" was produced by adding black to the "Improved Engine Green". This darker green was said to have been based on the colour of an ivy leaf given to Stroudley by his gardener. If the Westinghouse brake had been fitted then the black bands had a fine red line added each side. Number plates were on the cab sides.

Named locomotives had the name in gold leaf blocked left in red on sea-green and shaded to the right in black. Tank locomotives had the name painted on the tank sides, tender locomotives on a splasher. Names had slightly larger initial letters on each word. In the Billinton period the letters were slightly thinner.

Number plates were cast brass and attached to the cab sides. They had "London Brighton & South Coast Railway" around the border and had a dark blue infill.

From 1894 the front of the frames carried an indication of the home shed in small white characters.


Express Passenger classes were umber edged with a darker shade of umber and lined with a black band having a gilt line either side. Tender sides had "L B & S C R" in gilt block letters shaded in black. Buffer beams were red with similar style lettering for the number. Numberplates were carried.

From 1906 a few locomotive were allowed to carry names.

Secondary passenger and suburban tank locomotives were similar but used yellow instead of gilt lining. Number plates were gradually discarded and replaced with transfer numbers.

Goods classes were a deep glossy black with two lines of vermillion lining. All lettering was yellow shaded in red and white. Vermillion was used for buffer beams and infill for the numberplates. Number plates were gradually discarded and replaced with transfer numbers.

1911 to the Grouping

Liveries remained largely as before except the lettering was now "L B S C". After 1921 black was discontinued for goods classes.


Pre 1870

In a series of diagrams prepared in June 1869 a breakdown of carriage stock and liveries in use is given.

An oval garter with the number inside it was used on the centre of each side of the coach.


During this period coaches were mahogany in colour with gilt lining. It is not clear when this changed from a varnished to a painted finish. It seems entirely likely that coaches of this period were varnished mahogany when new. Older coaches were probably painted as it became more difficult to maintain the varnished finish to an acceptable standard as the coach got older. A reasonable guess would be 15-20 years varnished then painted. The reasoning behind this is based on the 1902/3 built 48' bogie first being restored on the Bluebell Railway. All timber which presents an external face was originally mahogany. The entire structure of the coach, however, is hidden by panelling or mouldings, with the exception of the corner pillars. It can be no co-incidence that the entire body structure is of teak and pitch pine, excepting the corner pillars which are (as specified in drawings) mahogany.

Roofs were white, running gear was black. Outer ends of brake vans were vermillion

A circular garter with the number inside it was used on the centre of each side of the coach. After 1899 the garter was empty with the numerals placed in two waist panels inboard of the two end doors. Lettering was for the class (FIRST, SECOND, THIRD or GUARD) and was gold shaded red and blocked white and appeared on the waist panels of doors.

Saloon interiors were dark green buttoned leather and white lincrusta picked out in gold. First class were blue plush, smoking compartments were in buffalo hide. Second class were brown with stone colour paintwork. Third class had wooden seats with paintwork in oak colour grained to look like oak.


On 18th February 1903, four carriages were inspected by the Directors at London Bridge. The colour schemes were:

At the board meeting the following week the decision was made to change the liveries to Umber and White. The actual board order was dated a further week later, due to an error which had the new livery as olive green and white. Lettering was gold shaded blue in the waist panels of the doors.

1911 to the Grouping

From about 1910 onwards all vehicles were painted plain umber with gold shaded black lettering. The initials "L.B.& S.C.R." were on two waist panels towards the centre with numbers in waist panels towards the ends. The lettering was gradually shortened to "LB&SCR" and then to "LBSC" with the inter-letter spacing reduced.

In 1996 Richard Salmon measured a sample of LBSCR Carriage Umber preserved in a coach body built into a bungalow, where the panel had been covered over and appeared well preserved. The colour had been restored using a very light sanding and a fresh coat of varnish. In CIE Yxy colour units this measured x=0.3517, y=0.3485, Y=1.98 (on a reflectance scale of 0 to 100). [A close (but not perfect) match to this is Dulux/NCS 9005-Y80R]


Pre 1870

Uncertain, probably grey with black iron work.


Wagon bodywork was lavender grey, including solebars and washer plates on solebars. Running gear below the solebar was black as were buffers and ironwork on bodies. Van roofs were white. Numberplates were white lettering and surround with bright blue background.

An "illiterate's" mark consisting of a pale blue 9 inch circle around a white shield shaded black with a red cross on it. This was placed at the top left of the wagon side, on the second plank of opens or the third of vans. Lettering was white and 3" high shaded black. A letter indicating the class of open was to the left of the illiterate's mark. The wagon number was centred one plank below the illiterate's mark. Tare weight in 3" white letters is at the left hand end of the solebar.

Guards vans had vermillion ends. Lettering was 3" white shaded black with "L.B.& S.C.R." on the second plank in the centre panel at the non-lantern end. The illiterate's mark was on the second plank down in the centre panel at the lantern end with the vehicle number on the third plank centred below it. The Guard's door carried the word GUARD.

Ballast wagons are reported to have been painted vermillion, although this is not certain, and not apparent from photographs. In the 1891 Appendix to the Working Timetable there is a reference to ... Thirty Ballast Wagons painted a dark lead colour, with the words "To be returned to Norwood Junction when Empty" written on both sides of each wagon ... I presume that this was a dark grey colour and was different to the normal ballast wagon colour.


The body colour became a darker shade of grey. The illiterates mark was replaced by 9" letters "LB&SCRy" with the "y" underlined with a line and a dot. In some cases the letters were shaded black. The wagon number was normally 6" high, tare weight were 3¼" high and appeared on the side sheets and the solebar. The class letter appeared over the number.


The lettering was now abbreviated to "LB&SCR". Brake van ends were now painted in the body colour.

1911 to the Grouping

The body colour was a yet darker grey and ironwork was no longer painted black. Lettering was now "LBSC" in 18" white letters, 5" numbers and tare weight 3¼" high.


Southern Style Part Two - London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. An in depth study of the appearance of the LB&SCR.
Peter J. Wisdom, Historical Model Railway Society, 2016 (ISBN 9780902835320)
The Locomotives of the London Brighton & South Coast Railway. Part 1
D.L. Bradley. Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, London, June 1969
William Stroudley, Craftsman of Steam
H.J. Campbell Cornwall. David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1968
Carriage Stock of the LB&SCR
P.J. Newbury. Oakwood Press, Blandford, Dorset, 1976
An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons. Volume 2: LBSCR and minor companies
G. Bixley, A. Blackburn, R. Chorley & M. King. OPC, 1985. (ISBN 0 86093 220 6)
The Brighton Circular (Various volumes)


Thanks to Eric Gates for his compilations of various liveries and to Richard Salmon for his information on coach liveries.