A History of the Railways
around Basingstoke

by Christopher J Tolley

Signs of Change

Privatisation has brought enormous changes to the structures within the British railway industry, and one obvious way in which this change can be seen is in the liveries of railway vehicles. Although the variety of different types of motive power has declined from the late 1980's onwards, the number of different liveries seems to have expanded exponentially, and at least in the early days of Privatisation, there were numerous detailed differences to be seen, due perhaps to experimentation to find the best pattern and colours. This page is a picture gallery showing stock in various liveries seen in and near Basingstoke.

Click below on one of the pictures to see more varied liveries.

Diesel Locomotives

Electric Locomotives

Diesel Multiple-Units

Electric Multiple-Units

There are many pictures on this page, so it will take some time to load them all.

Class 33 locomotives have hauled trains through Basingstoke ever since the 1960's, and most of the time they have been in this BR corporate "rail blue" livery. By 19 March 1998, when this photograph was taken, both the livery and class 33 locomotives were rare. (Indeed, the last few members of this class were finally withdrawn from service in December 1998.) Here, no. 33 051 Shakespeare Cliff working a northbound oil tanker train through Basingstoke in the company of class 37 locomotive 37 402 Bont y Bermo - an interesting coincidence that both locomotives are named after coastal locations, albeit from opposite sides of the country!



When the decisions were taken about which medium-powered diesel locomotives would have their life extended, Class 37's were preferred to class 33's. In consequence, these are taking over the duties that the class 33's are relinquishing in the south of England Here, 37 073, named Fort William/An Gearasdan, hauls a train of china clay wagons into Basingstoke from the south west on 23 March 1998. The livery on this locomotive is Railfreight with the markings of Transrail, one of the companies which had by this date been absorbed into English Welsh and Scottish Railways. 

Sometimes, locomotives appear in special liveries for reasons not apparently connected with their operators. Indeed, the blue class 33 above is one such - in that livery again for its last few months of service. Similarly, class 47 locomotive 47 004, which bears the name Old Oak Common Traction & Rolling Stock Depot, has been repainted in the livery first applied to these locomotives in the 1960's. Operated by English Welsh & Scottish Railways, 47 004 was photographed while hauling an oil tanker train east through Basingstoke on 2 April 1998.



Class 47 locomotive 47 270, named Cory Brothers 1842-1992, in Freightliner livery hauls a container train east through Basingstoke soon after sunrise on 18 October 1997

An inter regional express approaches Basingstoke on a summer Saturday in July 1990 on its way from  Weymouth to Edinburgh. The class 47 locomotive is 47842, and the whole train is decked out in Inter City colors of that time. 

Photograph by David Cable




Class 47 locomotive 47 640 University of Strathclyde running light through Basingstoke on 17 January 1998 has been signalled to the Reading route. The red and dark grey livery was used for parcels traffic. This locomotive is on the books of English Welsh and Scottish Railways.

Class 47 locomotive 47 310 Henry Ford is appropriately-named motive power for a train of empty car transporter wagons passing north through Basingstoke on 11 March 1998. The livery on this locomotive is that of Railfreight Distribution



On 24 March 1998, no. 47 329 hauled a Freightliner container train east through Basingstoke. This grey and yellow livery is officially called "Civil Link" and was used on both locomotives and wagons operated by the Civil Engineer's Department. 47 329 is now operated by Freightliner, so in due course it will no doubt be repainted in the colours shown above. (Though perhaps not - it was still in this livery in December 1998!)

One class 73 locomotive, 73 109 Battle of Britain 50th Anniversary, has been painted in South West Trains colours. It is often to be found standing at a bay platform at Woking, where it was photographed on Saturday 21 March 1998. I have seen it passing light through Basingstoke on a couple of occasions, but never in charge of a train.



Class 73 locomotive 73 131 wears the livery of English, Welsh & Scottish Railways. It was photographed passing light through Basingstoke on 5 March 1998.

Sister locomotives 73 139 and 73 141 head east past Basingstoke Signal Box on 12 March 1998 with a train of ten "Seacow" stone wagons. These locomotives are still in the former "Mainline" livery. There is a spark as the collector shoe of the leading locomotive makes contact with the electrified third rail.


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The Gatwick Express 73/2's sometimes pass through Basingstoke, usually ferrying Gatwick Express coaches to and from Eastleigh Works. One presumes that there was some operating problem with one of these workings which led to 73 208 and one luggage van being laid up in the sidings in front of Basingstoke Signal Box for a couple of days at the start of October 1998, which is where it was photographed on the 7th.

High Speed Train power car 43084 in a variety of the Virgin Trains livery (some carry 'XC' Cross Country Branding, while others do not) was still paired with coaches in the former InterCity livery, when photographed at Basingstoke on 9 March 1998, while heading a southbound service.



In contrast, this northbound service arriving at Basingstoke, also photographed on 9 March 1998, consists of coaches in the Virgin livery married to power cars in the former InterCity livery.


An extremely unusual livery for a High Speed Train power car at Basingstoke is Great North Eastern blue and orange. Nevertheless, this one was so adorned when it passed northwards through Basingstoke on 19 October 1998. Clearly it was deputising for a Virgin Cross Country power car which was out of commission.

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The livery of Network SouthEast is well shown on these two diesel multiple units at Basingstoke on 4 March 1998. Both the class 165 unit in the background and the class 159 unit in the foreground were supplied new to NSE, so this is the first livery applied to either train. Under NSE, there were minor differences - not only in the way the livery was adapted for trains of different designs, but also in the way that the trains were branded to reflect the route on which they operated. For example, the class 165 unit carries " Thames Turbo" branding, visible next to the window.

Class 158 unit 158 871, arriving at Basingstoke while working a London Waterloo to Cardiff service on 9 March 1998, is in the "Alphaline" variety of Regional Railways livery. The class 159 train seen above is a 3-car variant of this design.


Some "first generation" diesel multiple-units have lasted into the privatised era in non-passenger-carrying roles. Several sets of Metro-Cammell stock have survived in this way, and this pair has been repainted in the striking red and grey SERCo. livery. This unit was photographed passing through Basingstoke in the direction of Woking on 28 April 1998.



The Network SouthEast livery, as applied to older units such as number 1885, seen here at Basingstoke on 9 March 1998, had a much darker grey stripe at the bottom, as compared with units such as those above which had the livery from new.


Whilst there is no doubt a good intention behind the quirky Porterbrook livery applied to this special three-car electric multiple-unit, there is on the other hand an apposite saying about the road to hell! This peculiar train was photographed passing Basingstoke signal box (right) on 20 August 1998.

The first electric multiple unit to carry a livery designating South West Trains was this one, class 442 unit 2402, which carries the name County of Hampshire. South West Trains adapted the NSE livery with an orange stripe to match the colours of its parent company, Stagecoach. Otherwise, the livery was basically what it had been before. Unit 2402 was photographed at Basingstoke on 23 March 1998.



Units repainted later had this version of the South West Trains livery applied. In contrast with unit 2402 above, this is a complete repaint, with the original grey being replaced with white, and the NSE blue being replaced with a paler shade. This is unit 2302, seen at Basingstoke on 9 March 1998.

In April 1998, a new and rather striking SWT livery was applied to class 442 unit 2416, which is named Mum in a Million 1997 - Doreen Scanlon, photographed here at Basingstoke on 19 May 1998.

In addition to the new livery, modifications were made to the centre coaches of this unit, to provide a few extra standard-class seats. All units in this class are expected to be treated in this way, and should pass through works at a rate of two per month, thus completing work on the class by mid-1999.


Click below on one of the pictures to see more varied liveries.

Diesel Locomotives

Electric Locomotives

Diesel Multiple-Units

Electric Multiple-Units

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