Hornby Departmental Mk. 1s

23 June 2023
Brighten up your sidings with these new arrivals from Margate. Howard Smith uncovers if they're true-to-form...

Modellers and collectors often crave models that stand out from the crowd – models that make their collection different to those of others. And, though calling on the imagination to make a ‘might have been’ location is often called upon, there are still many rolling stock liveries that really did exist, waiting to be applied to models – opportunities are plentiful for the modeller willing to research. Luckily, this month we’ve taken delivery of three Mk. 1s from Hornby, which has carried out research for us, applying ‘stand out’ liveries to its tooling.

Hornby 977165 BR Mk.1 coach

We’ll start with a look at 977165 in all-over white, with yellow ends. Depicting the vehicle in its 2000s condition, painted all-over white with security mesh guards across windows, it was used as a staff and generator vehicle, and can now be found on the West Sommerset Railway. Imagery online can be found of the vehicle in use with Balfour Beatty, sandwiched between two Plasser & Theurer GP-Tramms – a short formation, ideal for smaller layouts, and sure to spark interest with modellers.

In the early 1990s, this vehicle was painted light blue with a dark blue stripe – opportunity for a further livery, perhaps? In this guise, the model is a close match to the prototype, though the central window and door have been painted white rather than being flush – a requirement of using existing tooling no doubt, though opportunity for the modeller to improve. So too are the ends which have incorrect handrails and number of steps. Where everything else is concerned, particularly the livery, the model really looks the part!

Hornby 977135 BR Mk.1 coach

Content continues after advertisements

In BR blue, with white-painted windows is ADB 977135, a barrier vehicle for moving rolling stock around Wembley yard. The quality of livery application is exceptional here, too, though comparing the model with photographs, there is scope for detail enhancements to coach ends. I couldn’t find an image of the vehicle with white-painted windows – perhaps readers can help?

Hornby 977135 BR Mk.1 coach

Finally, the best ‘till last – Derby’s Research and Development division livery, a department responsible for many technical advancements in rail travel. It often required data on the move in test coaches such as this – RDB 975280, Test coach Mercury.

Hornby 977165 BR Mk.1 coach

Used in the 1970s on the WCML to test sleeper-mounted transponders prior to the introduction of the APT, the model can be justified at the head of a passenger train, as per photographic evidence.

All told, despite minor detail changes, this new stock for 'OO' depicts rarely-modelled prototypes, which have the needs of modellers from the 1970s to 2000s covered. Liveries are expertly applied, and other than minor inconsistencies with the type of couplings provided, these are useful additions for 4mm:1ft modellers, with room for further enhancements, if desired.