First proposed by Bachmann in the UK the era system, similar to the epoch system used throughout Europe for many years, has been adopted by most manufacturers to set the time period for each livery version of their models. This allows modellers to quickly identify which time periods a particular model is designed to fit. Hornby have extended list with 10 and 11 to cover franchse changes during the privatisation era.
||1804 - 1875 Pioneering
||1875 - 1922 Pre-Grouping
||1923 - 1947 The Big four - LMS, GWR, LNER and SR
||1948 - 1956 British Railways Early Emblem
||1957 - 1966 British Railways Late Crest
||1967 - 1971 British Railways Blue Pre Tops
||1971 - 1982 British Railways Blue Tops era
||1982 - 1994 British Railways Sectorisation
||1995 onwards - Post Privatisation
||2006 - 2017 Network Franchising
||2014 onwards Current Day Operators
Era information is provided as a guide to the time period when a model or livery would have ben seen. Normally the era starts as the date of a significant change in the industry (eg the grouping in 1922), or in livery policy (eg British Railways in 1956), however it is impossible to set an era for every livery change. In most cases a search on the web will quickly find the dates applicable for specific changes if you need more accurate information on when a particular change was commenced.
It takes many years to complete a change of livery so in the initial years of an era most rolling stock would carry the livery from the the preceeding era. In addition to newly built rolling stock usually the most important mainline locomotives and coaches would be repainted first, with local branch stock only getting painted when a major overhaul was due. Typically locomotives and passenger coaches would normally have received a repaint within 5 years, but goods and shunting engines often went much longer between full repaints, having existing paintwork 'touched up' at much lower costs. Railway company owned wagons were painted much less frequently, possibly only when major repairs were required and examples of wagons carrying well-weathered 1930s applied lettering into the 1950s are not uncommon. Unsurprisingly steam-era private owner wagons were often fully repainted every 3 years under maintenenace contracts to keep the livery clean, fresh and legible.
Railway preservation and heritage railways started in 1951 at Towyn, moving up to the first standard gauge heritage railway, the Bluebell line, opening to the public in 1960. Many historic railway vehicles from the past are painted in the liveries of their original owners, with 'heritage' steam and diesel locomotives and rolling stock operating alongside 'modern' trains on heritage railways and on the national network. Several older liveries have been revived for charter trains, yet another reason why 'out of period' trains might be seen on the 'modern' railway.
Please rememeber - It's your railway, run it your way!
The Era is merely a guide for those who wish to purchase models from a similar period in time and in liveries which would have been seen together. Do not let the Era dissuade you from purchasing and enjoying an item because you find it attractive or interesting.