LNER Locomotive and Rolling Stock Liveries

Lasting for only twenty five years, the LNER's rolling stock liveries were fairly constant. The only significant exception was that of the austerity black livery used during World War Two.

Liveries for the new company were decided upon by March 1923, although there a number of minor modifications later in the year. Decision making started in December 1922 with an inspection of the various liveries in use by the constituent companies. This was followed by two Board Meetings on 31st January 1923 and 22nd February 1923, at York and Marylebone respectively. These meetings inspected locomotives painted in a number of constituent company liveries and with some modifications.


The LNER might have been famous for its 'apple green' locomotives, but in reality most of its locomotives carried black liveries for most of their time with the LNER. Black was primarily used for freight locomotives, passenger tank locomotives, and during World War 2. Exceptions can be found on the individual locomotive class pages.

Passenger Tender Locomotives: Green, 1923-1941

The class LNER 'apple green' livery was used for passenger tender locomotives from 1923 to 1941. From June 1928, the number of green classes was reduced as an economy measure. There were a number of inconsistencies in the classes. For example, most of the Atlantics continued to be painted in green, but the GCR Atlantics (C4 & C5) were painted in black.

Further exceptions occurred with the A4 Pacifics which were initially painted in a variety of liveries before Garter Blue was chosen.

The green is usually described as 'apple green', but regional variations definitely occurred. LNER management appears to have turned a blind eye to Darlington using a shade of green that was paler and closer to the green used by the NER.

The green livery of 1924 was as follows:

Location Colour
Boiler Green
Clothing Bands Black edged with 3/16in white lines.
Mud plugs Black with 0.25in black surrounds and 3/16in white line outside.
Smokebox Black
Handrails, handles, hinges Left bright.
Cab Green + black edge (2in bottom, 0.5in front & rear) and 3/16in white line inside.
Roof Black
Windows Black beading edged with 0.5in black border and 3/16in white line outside.
Handrails Green
Doors Unlined green
Front spectacle plate Green + 0.25in black edge and 3/16in white line inside.
Spectacles Edged with 0.25in black and 3/16in white lines.
Splashers Green with black beading round the top and 2in black edge at base. 3/16in white line inside.
Footsteps and footplate angle iron Black + 0.25in red line 0.75in from bottom edge and front buffer beam
Frames Above footplate Black + 3/16in red line, 0.5in from top edge
Fall plate Black + 3/16in red line, 0.5in from edges
Below footplate Black + 3/16in red line, 0.5in from bottom edge and cut-outs
Horn blocks, spring gear, brake gear Black
Inside of frames and cross-stays Red
Trailing axleboxes Black with 3/16in red line, 0.5in from edges
Outside cylinders Green
Wheels Green with 1.75in black rim edged inside with 3/16in white line. Black centre with 3/16in white line outside.
Front buffer beam Red + 0.75in black border and 0.25in white line inside
Numbers 4.5in gold with brown and black shading. "No." and figures on either side of the drawhook
Tender Green with 2in black border top & bottom edged inside with 3/16in white line. Lined sides and back with 2in black edge on both sides with 3/16in white line.
Letters "LNER" 7.5in yellow on 3ft 8in centres, shaded red and brown. 1ft 1.25in above numbers.
Numbers 12in gold shaded red at 6in intervals; 1ft 4.25in from footplate.
Frame Black + 3/16in red line, 0.5in from bottom edge.
Rear buffer beam Red

In 1928, the engine number was moved from the tender to the cab side. These numbers were 12in gold with red shading, located 2ft 8in above the footplate. This allowed the tender "LNER" lettering to be increased to 12in high spaced at 3ft 4in intervals. The buffer beam lining was also modified to be slightly thinner.

Other Locomotives: Black, 1923-1941

The remaining locomotives during this period were painted black. Red lining was initially used on all goods engines, but this was removed as an economy measure in 1928. Secondary passenger locomotives continued to be painted with red lining after this date.

An example red-lined black livery is that of the N2s during the 1920s:

Location Colour
Boiler Black
Clothing Bands Black + 0.25in red line edge
Smokebox Black
Cab Black + 0.25in red line 0.75in from beading and cut-out
Roof Black + 0.25in red line carried over top, front, and rear
Doors Black
Front spectacle plate Black + 0.25in red line, 1in from roof and sides, and on edge of firebox angle iron
Spectacles 0.25in red line, 0.75in from outside of spectacles
Splashers Black + 0.25in red line 2in from footplate, 0.75in from the top and front of the sandbox, on either side of the coupling rod splashers, and inside of the beading on both the splashers and sandboxes
Footsteps and footplate angle iron Black + 0.25in red line 0.75in from bottom edge and ends
Frames Above footplate Black
Below footplate Black + 0.25in red line, 0.75in from bottom edge and cut-outs
Horn blocks, spring gear, brake gear Black
Inside of frames and cross-stays Red
Wheels Black
Front buffer beam Red + 0.75in black border and 0.25in white line inside
Numbers 4.5in gold with brown and black shading. "No." and figures on either side of the drawhook
Tanks Black with 0.25in red line 2in from top & bottom, and 7in from front & rear
Letters "LNER" 7.5in yellow on 2ft 8in centres, shaded red and brown
Numbers 12in yellow, shaded red and brown at 6in intervals; 1ft 4in from bottom red-line and 7.5in below letters
Bunker Black + 0.25in red line 7in from front and 2in from horizontal cab beading and footplate. Continuous from the sides to the bacl.
Rear buffer beam Red with no numbers
Wartime to Nationalisation: 1941-1948

As an economy measure, unlined black was used for all locomotive classes from 1941. Lettering was also changed from "L N E R" to "N E".

After the end of World War 2, the LNER announced that all locomotives would be painted in green, with the exception of the A4s and W1 which would return to Garter Blue. Locomotives from over 25 classes would be repainted before Nationalisation in 1948.


The coach teak livery was initially used for steam railcars, but this was quickly replaced with a red and cream livery. Eventually red and cream was replaced with green and cream. Brown was used on some railcars during World War 2. The Tyneside electric stock also started as teak and was repainted in red and cream, but was finally painted as blue and cream.

Diesel railcars were initially painted in blue and primrose, before these were also converted to green and cream.


LNER carriages usually had wooden bodies and were finished with natural varnished teak for the sides and ends. Non-gangway stock was painted with black ends. Teak coloured paint was used for the solebars, headstocks, and wheel centres.

Underframes and bogies were painted in black with white for the wheel rims and axles.

The teak panels were lined using a 3/8in primrose line with 1/16in vermilion edges on all upright casings and horizontal mouldings. Lettering and numbering were gold with red, pink, and white shading; with black brown back shading. Class designations used 7in characters, with 4in characters for "LNER" and numbering.

NPCSS (Non-Passenger Carrying Coaching Stock) and horseboxes were typically painted with teak brown paint, but a few were also varnished.

Steel panelled stock was given a teak-like finish. By Thompson's tenure, steel bodied stock was being painted with plain teak paint.

During World War 2, "LNER" lettering was shortened to "NE" and all lining was removed when stock was overhauled. Grey was also used for the roofs, instead of white.


Wagon liveries remained the same throughout the LNER's existence:

Type Colour
Non-fitted revenue wagons Grey
Revenue wagons fitted with automatic brakes Brown red oxide / Bauxite
Brake vans Brown red oxide / Bauxite
Loco coal wagons Grey
Sleeper wagons Grey
Refrigerated wagons White with black ladders, footboards, and some strapping/hinges
Containers Dark blue, but early examples were bauxite. Grey and polished aluminium also existed.
Refigerated Containers White
Service vehicles (eg. engineering) Oxford blue
Yard-restricted vehicles Green
Breakdown cranes Black with 0.25in red lining

Van roofs were usually white, although there's evidence to suggest that some were painted grey before they acquired the inevitable dirty layer of soot.

All of the running gear was black with the end of each brake lever picked out in white for visibility. Wooden solebars were painted in the body colour, whilst steel solebars were black. Wheel rims are also white in official photographs, but it is unlikely that this ever saw widespread use.