Railway modelling is a hobby that enables you to build your own miniature world based on areas you love in the real world, modes of transport that appeal to you, and periods in time that are of most interest. Many railway modellers choose to recreate real-life locations and periods in history when devising their model railway layouts, others go for a more mix and match approach, but it’s all down to personal taste.
Many model trains and accessories feature an indication of the era they’re most suited to on their packaging or in their product descriptions. This is normally a small symbol or logo. These symbols allow you to quickly match models and products to your layout. While exact eras may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, the commonly accepted standard is as follows (as used by Bachmann).
- Era: 1 1804 – 1875 Pioneering
- Era: 2 1875 – 1922 Pre-grouping
- Era: 3 1923 – 1947 The big four – LMS, GWR, LNER and SR
- Era: 4 1948 – 1956 British Railways Early Emblem
- Era: 5 1957 – 1966 British Railways Late Crest
- Era: 6 1967 – 1971 British Railways Blue Pre-TOPS
- Era: 7 1971 – 1982 British Railways Blue TOPS
- Era: 8 1982 – 1994 British Railways Sectorisation
- Era: 9 1995 onwards – Post Privatisation
Seeing an Era symbol on a product in our opinion though should not dissuade anyone from purchasing and enjoying a model that you simply find attractive or interesting.
In reality, the railways have always been a rather mixed & varied place, with many items of rolling stock remaining in service painted in the liveries from previous Era’s for the duration of the following Era and beyond.
At the end of the day, it’s all down to personal preference. If you wish to run a mix of modern image diesel/electric locomotives along side the Mallard, then who’s going to stop you! But if you want to accurately model a specific location and period in time, then the era symbol found on many products enables you to do exactly that.