FAQ - Modelling Southern R-T-R Coaches


I would like to learn more about the various liveries and also the availability of certain coaching stock especially Bullied coaches and EMUs, preferably RTR because I do not have time to build them myself. I would like some smaller suburban coaches on my layout. Just about all of my coaches are Mk.1 types and the sameness is very boring. I just cannot find much rolling stock here in Canada and I do not know enough about the various coach descriptions to know I am buying the coaches I want for my region and time.

Answer: (from the combined efforts of SREmG members Colin Duff, Mike Watts, Richard Salmon, Tony Cane, Roger Stanford, Andrew Fanner and "Roger Merry-price")

Welcome to the SREmG and do not worry about your preference for RTR as the group is a "broad church" ranging from RTR to highly skilled scratch building. For this reply we assume you are modelling in OO, although the principles involved follow for all scales, but the availability of suitable models in other scales varies. Unfortunately the Southern Railway is the poorest sister of all the "big four" British railway companies when it comes to manufacturers selecting prototypes to model.

To deal with Southern liveries first, and we will come on to types of coaches later. From 1923 the newly formed Southern Railway adopted a passenger stock livery of "Maunsell (after the CME R.E.L Maunsell) Green" - a sage/olive green. Where lining was applied it was chrome orange with black edging. The ends (except those on EMUs), underframes and bogies were black. The ends of EMUs were green. Lettering and numerals, which were of a block sans serif font, was gold shaded black beneath and to the right. Coach roofs were white or mid grey (when new!!!). From 1937 the Southern's new CME O.V.S. Bulleid introduced a striking new malachite green scheme, referenced it is said, to a length of spectacle cord in the CME's possession. Coaches did not have lining in this livery; ends, underframes and bogies were black. Lettering and numerals were block sans serif in golden yellow and black (golden yellow edged black 1937-1941 and then 1941-1948 golden yellow edged and shaded black below and beneath). Coach roofs were mid grey.

A good reference book covering this period, now sadly out of print, is "Railway Liveries - Southern Railway" by Brian Haresnape, published in 1982 and 1983 by Ian Allan, ISBN 0 7110 1203 2.

Come nationalisation in 1948 the Southern Region of British Railways, as all other regions, slowly adopted the new mainline coaching livery of carmine and cream, lined yellow and black with yellow lettering and numerals. This livery weathered badly, so it was later replaced by a stronger crimson and cream, lined and lettered similarly. Suburban coaches were just the carmine or crimson, some lined some unlined. Where this suburban livery applied on the Southern Region lining was not used. Southern EMUs remained green throughout this period. From 1956 until the blue/grey era of the mid 1960s regional liveries were permitted, with the Southern Region being quick off the mark to revert to their beloved green, albeit a new darker richer shade (BR Southern Region green). Lettering and numerals remained yellow. Certainly new BR Mk1s were introduced in carmine/cream, and pictorial evidence proves both Maunsell and Bulleid coaching stock was repainted into the new British Railways colours. However, the carmine/cream and crimson/cream schemes were not as widespread throughout the Southern Region as other regions, because of the Southern's long held practice of re-varnishing as opposed to repainting coaches. (It is from this practice that the North American railroad slang of "varnish", referring to passenger cars, comes.) By this method the Southern region was able to hang on to its green coaching stock longer, and many coaches were not repainted, but merely re-varnished and re-lettered, until the Southern Region green livery was introduced in 1956.

Now to the coach types themselves. Firstly give the Hornby Southern Railway passenger coaches (current catalogue numbers R162 and R163 - Maunsell olive, and R4008 and R4009 - Bulleid malachite) a wide berth. These models are not a realistic model of anything Southern - these coaches are of a "generic" 1920s British design, more GWR than SR. However Hornby's SR Bogie Luggage Vans (current catalogue numbers R174 - Maunsell Olive, and R178 - Bulleid malachite) are reasonable models of a real prototype. You can run them in their as-made colours for the respective time periods, or repaint them into Southern Region green or even British Rail corporate blue for modelling later periods. A small number of surviving real life bogie luggage vans ran into the 1980s. All other coaching stock has to be BR Mk1s from various model manufacturers (do not write them off quite yet - it is how you run them on a SR model that counts) or buy Bachmann Bulleid coaches heavily!

Both the Southern Railway and Southern Region of BR ran the overwhelming majority of its hauled coaching stock in fixed sets. The small balance of their coaching stock was "loose", used to strengthen existing sets when extra capacity was needed. The fixed sets were made up of Maunsell, Bulleid and BR Mk1 types. Normally the stock of one designer was used in a set, but rarely a set was of mixed parentage. The good news about modelling a realistic Southern train is all you need is one (or two) coaches! The bad news is that to make up that train you need a model of a Bulleid corridor brake composite, and nobody makes that RTR! Plea - are you reading this Bachmann!

So to make up realistic fixed sets from what is actually available from Bachmann coaches, form them:

3 coach set = Corridor/Open Brake Second + Corridor Composite + Corridor/Open Brake Second


4 coach set = Corridor/Open Brake Second + Corridor Composite + Corridor Second + Corridor/Open Brake Second


5 coach set = Corridor/Open Brake Second + Corridor Second + Corridor Composite + Corridor Second + Corridor/Open Brake Second

Some SR sets were as big as ten coaches, and no doubt living in Canada like in the USA you have an enormous space in which to model, so you may have space to run a big ten coach set. But for us space starved Brits, the smaller sets have to suffice to provide a realistically formed model.

Suggestions for a realistic (if short) train:

Engine + bogie luggage van + Bulleid 4 coach set


Engine + Bulleid second open + BR Mk1 3 coach set

The SR made up some trains of several sets so a quintessential SR train is made up of lots of brake coaches - albeit marshalled in fixed positions. Some major SR trains - such as the Atlantic Coast Express - split their formation at various places en route to serve different destinations. Typically a whole set or a loose coach would be detached.

Bachmann Bulleid Coaches:

Corridor/Open Brake Second 34-500A & 34-501A (green) or 34-502 & 34-503A (crimson/cream)

Corridor Second 34-525A and 34-526A (green) or & 35-527 & 34-528A (crimson/cream)

Corridor Composite 34-550A & 34-551A (green) or 34-552 & 34-553A (crimson/cream)

Bachmann Bulleid Second Open coaches 34-575 (green) or 34-576 (crimson/cream) can be used as "loose" coaches (see later for explanation).

These Bachmann models are suitable for a period after 1949. The SR also formed its BR Mk1 stock in fixed sets, especially along the lines of the 3 and 4 coach sets as detailed above using a Corridor Brake Second instead of the Corridor/Open Brake Second in the Bulleid version. Suitable coaches are the Hornby BR Mk1 corridor composite R4007 and corridor brake R4006. For a corridor second you will need to hunt around for a second-hand Mainline model of this type. BR Mk1 coaches are suitable for modelling a period after the early 1950s.

"Loose" coaches were added to trains for additional capacity. Typically loose coaches were marshalled at the head or rear of trains. However, loose coaches were shunted into sets for periods, say augmenting a three normally coach set to five coaches for the busy summer period.

It must be stated that all sets were numbered. Since the Southern actually ordered and built its coaches to go into fixed sets the numbering of coaches within sets is ordered and definitely not random. However that is the subject for another answer! Needless to say the

Bachmann and Hornby models are numbered to represent stock that was both within a set or loose. Fastidious SR modellers renumber their model stock to represent known sets.

No RTR Southern EMUs are currently in production. Triang made a 3 coach EMU set many years ago based upon, but not accurately, a 3 SUB. Similarly Hornby Dublo made a 2/3 coach EMU, but that was really a model of North London line 57ft EMU stock and not a Southern EMU as advertised. Hornby have now released their model of a class 466 "Networker" EMU - product number R2001 . Hurrah for Hornby actually building a RTR EMU, especialy as it is a highly detailed model. Even if it is only appropriate for "Network SouthEast (already part of history) Kent Link" suburban services out of Victoria, Charing Cross, Blackfriars and London Bridge 1993 to the current day, any model of a "southern" EMU is worth having. manufacturers - more Southern EMUs of this quality please!

Finally, if you want any other SR coaching stock or EMUs, kit or scratch building it must be. EMU kits (or parts) in OO are available from Southern Pride, Phoenix, Ian Kirk, MTK, MJT and Roxey. Coach kits of various types are available from Southern Pride, Roxey, Ian Kirk and Phoenix. Not all kits may be in current production or currently available.

Good luck with your Southern Modelling!

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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