As many in the world of preservation will know, the colour scheme of any railway vehicle can be subject to much debate and conjecture. During British Railways days, there was little variation compared to the scene today where a multitude of train operating companies all display their brand. Consequently, our Class 104s carried fewer different liveries than their successors; after the former were withdrawn before privatisation was introduced in 1996.
However from the late 1980’s “sectorisation”, British Rail’s prelude to privatisation, created several sub-divisions of BR which created their own identity via the use of differing colour schemes. This was particularly the case for new or refurbished rolling stock, where the new colour scheme would create public impact to highlight BR’s investment.
With the Class 104s in decline by the mid 1980’s, they were not selected for life extension or refurbishment, with the exception of 12 vehicles which were incorporated into the “Network SouthEast” empire around London. The vast majority of remaining Class 104s were still working around their original home territory, the North West of England in tired BR blue livery. During BR’s rebranding process, several new liveries were to see use in the area but none were applied to the terminal Class 104 fleet.
As a group we have often speculated “what might have been”, had the Class 104 been selected for a life extension programme and survived on the mainline longer. It is possible that (perhaps due to delays in the replacement rolling stock which was designed during the 1980’s) the Class 104s could have received some of these new colour schemes, as some of the other (life-extended) DMUs such as Classes 101 & 117 did. This page shows some digital renders of Class 104s in these fictitious liveries, which were very kindly produced for us by Garry Luck. Garry’s other work can be seen on his own website.