Como locomotive LBSCR 308 (Dr J Bradbury Winter)

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This model of LBSCR locomotive 308 Como is actually on display at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, but we thought we'd give it a page since it's arguably one of the most famous models associated with Brighton.

Winter's Como is of historical importance not just because of the exceptional workmanship. At the time, model engineering hadn't yet become a popular hobby for "amateurs" (Percival Marshall and W.J. Bassett-Lowke's promotion of the hobby didn't start until until the late 1890s), and Winter's celebrated piece probably acted as a "flagship", showing what could be achieved by someone who wasn't a professional engineer. It probably also helped that the piece went on public display in Brighton Museum rather than mouldering in someone's basement.

Further interest was garnered amongst railway enthusiasts because Winter lived locally, and his model was built while the loco was still in service, meaning that the locomotive's authentic feel was informed by sight of the actual original engine and not just by blueprints or photographs. When all of the loco class were scrapped without any held back for preservation, Winter's model became the best surviving record of the locomotive.


Yet more interest was garnered by the locomotive's unusual colour, a sort of ochre yellow. Known humorously amongst railway enthusiasts as "Stroudley's Engine Green", legend has it that the paint colour was chosen by its designer, William Stroudley ... who was colour-blind. When the LBSCR switched back to more "normal" colours, railway and model enthusiasts found that it was surprisingly difficult to find out what the colour had actually been, as paint samples and specifications seemed to be difficult to find, and contemporary photography had tended to be black and-white. This meant that Winter's model (painted at the time of the real locomotive), became a contemporary colour reference for these classes of locomotive, and it's known for railway modellers making recreations of these classes to make the pilgrimage to Brighton to find out what the engine's colour really was. Unfortunately, the loco is currently on display in a fairly dark section of Brighton Museum, and appears rather "butterscotch" coloured – we're not sure how much of this is due to lighting, we've also heard it suggested that perhaps the loco might have been subsequently varnished at some point, and the (hypothetical) varnish might have darkened with age.

But we don't honestly know. In our museum, we do have a rather good Miller Swan gauge 0 model of an LB&SCR B1 class (Gladstone), which we expect to be colour-accurate ... but it's on our central layout, some feet away from the closest viewing position, which isn't ideal for studying colour (due to the restricted viewing angles). The real Gladstone is preserved at the National Railway Museum.

1924 description:

THIRTEEN years spent in building a model locomotive; think of the patient and persevering effort this means. Yet that effort, in result, produced one of the finest pieces of locomotive modelling the world has ever seen. Strangely enough this remarkable model was built not by an engineer but by a doctor.

It is just forty years ago that Dr. J. Bradbury Winter conceived the idea of building a perfect scale model of the engine "Como", a four-coupled main-line locomotive which had recently been put into service on the London, Brighton and South-Coast Railway. Dr. Winter did not believe in the principle of "near enough"; he meant to have his model absolutely right, and he made every detail with his own hands. Even the wheels, for which castings are usually considered good enough, were cut out of solid discs of steel. He drilled out the spaces between the spokes and filed each spoke exactly to shape.

The magnitude of this task can be imagined when I tell you that more than 700 holes were drilled in each wheel, and the time occupied in completing the six wheels of the engine was over 500 hours. Dr. Winter had his ordinary professional duties to attend to, and could only give his spare time to his model making. Assuming that he spent two hours a day in his workshop, it will be seen that he must have been engaged for the best part of a year on making the wheels alone. This wonderful model locomotive now stands at the head of the main staircase in the Brighton Museum.

— , J.H. Wilson, , Marvels of Modelmaking, , Marvels of Modelmaking, , 11th September 1924


Doctors, lawyers, artists, and musicians, find healthful occupation and recreation in the home workshop, and some of them produce most beautiful examples of craftsmanship. The finest scale model locomotive in the country, the spare time work of a doctor, now reposes in the Art Gallery at Brighton.

— , Percival Marshall, , Wonderful Models, , 1927

The original locomotive

Como was built in 1883 at Brighton Locomotive Works, and was eventually withdrawn in late 1904.

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