Original (Mid 1957)

The first four sets to be built carried the original Class 104 colour scheme. The main bodyside colour, also applied to the cabs and corridor ends, was the standard British Railways dark "loco" green. This was broken up by two cream lines, above and below the windows (see below). The roofs were light grey and the cab roof domes white. The chassis and underframe components were predominantly black with selected items of equipment such as the speedometer drive and heaters picked out in silver. The tyres on the wheels were picked out in white. Bufferbeams were red on the cab ends only, although the buffer heads and lamp irons remained black (see first image)


All lining and lettering was cream. The top line was a thinner line whilst the lower one was thicker with a 3/8" black border. Both lines wrapped around the rear of the vehicle whilst at the front they curved upwards slightly in order to follow the cab windscreens which were a few inches higher than the bodyside windows. Lettering included 4" vehicle  numbers normally located centrally below one of the windows towards the right of the bodyside. 2" high "Guard" lettering was applied below the window of the guards doors. 1 1/2" high "load 1 1/2 tons evenly distributed" lettering was located close to the guards doors along the bottom edge of the bodyside. 1" high "Private" lettering was under the window on the cab doors. On TCL vehicles only, the passenger door at the extreme end of the vehicle had a large cream "1" centrally below the window to signify the first class section. On the rear of the vehicle on the drivers side of the corridor end was a data panel with information such as vehicle type, dimensions, shopping dates and seating capacities.

Other features included BR lion-over-wheel emblems which were located centrally along the side of power cars only, these were handed so that the lion always faced towards the cab. Blue square multiple working codes were located on each corner of the cab and corridor ends.

Production Vehicles (1957-1958)

For the production vehicles, the shade of green used was changed to the lighter "multiple unit green" and the lion-over-wheel logo was changed to the carriage roundel, although these were still handed to face the cab until 1960, after which they all faced left. The picked out white tyres were discarded.


From early 1958 vehicles were being delivered with two large "speed whiskers" on the cab fronts but confusingly there were still sets being delivered as late as May 1958 with no whiskers so this wasn't a clean transition on the factory floor, taking about 6 months.

Early Depot Modifications (Late 1950's)

Major modifications to the green livery when the vehicles were so new were rare, however it has been noted that several depots had their codes sign written onto the bufferbeams, with Stoke-on-Trent (5D) being particularly keen on this. Some Eastern Region vehicles also had "YK SET" painted on to the cab fronts to the left and right of the marker lights. A reasonable number of (mainly London Midland) vehicles delivered without speed whiskers had them added during this period by depots.

First Overhauls (1960-62)

When the vehicles were around three years old (between 1960-62) BR took them through works and during the overhaul basically eradicated all of the livery features that BRCW had applied to the 104's that BR were not satisfied with. During these repaints, the grey roofs were replaced with a much darker grey, and in some cases black, and the white cab roof domes were painted in the main roof colour. The multiple unit green was returned to the darker green colour which the original four sets had carried and the coach roundels now all faced left as standard. Due to expanding electrification on the network, overhead warning flashes were now also appearing on the cab and corridor ends. One of the most striking changes however was the removal of the speed whiskers with all vehicles receiving half yellow ends to the cab fronts. The last photographic evidence we have of a 104 running with whiskers was 1963.

Later Variations (1963 onwards)

There is so far just one image (see fourth image) showing a vehicle carrying green livery but with a full yellow end during the late 1960's. Unfortunately the identity of the vehicle is not known for sure due to the resolution of the image, but it may have been M50446.

The original BRCW 1957 green livery
An image showing a typical productio set in the lighter multiple unit green. Speed whiskes and overhad warning flashes have been added
Showing the half yellow panel arrangement
Possibly M50446 just visible on the right, our only evidence that a Class 104carrid green livery with a full yellow end