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Fifty Shades of Orange

GCT 113 was taken to Immingham on 12 December for repaint. The Stagecoach Swoops livery she'd worn for 14 continuous years was soon to be removed. This in itself is something of an accomplishment - how many buses since the NBC era have worn the exact same livery for fourteen years?

On 21 December when I collected GCT 113, the orange was the wrong shade. I can now confirm that British Standard 5252 Colour Reference 08E55 is not the shade of orange GCT used. Not even close.

Having spoke with my paint rep contact, Howard, who supplied Mason's paints to GCT during the 1980s and 1990s, he said that he was sure it was 08E55. Having done some posthumous digging, he'd discovered a Mason's catalogue of paints supplied. In it was an entry for GCT. There were two shades of orange. The first, 'Grimsby Cleethorpes Transport Orange 1987', was indeed 08E55; the second, 'Grimsby Cleethorpes Transport Orange 1990', was a special code, WD40 by coincidence, denoting a special mix had been made.

He regaled me with a story back in 1987 when the paint shop he worked for at the time had been tasked by councillors for GCT to introduce a new, fresh image now deregulation and privatisation was in full swing. They'd applied a new orange and white livery to a Fleetline and invited the great and the good of the towns' elected officials to see. All were happy and signed off the new livery - which saw the shade of orange used being 08E55.

GCT then went off and spent a small fortune on publicity - bus stop stickers, a reflective stylised fleet name sticker, and designed the two-colour, white outlined stripe for beneath the windows.

They discovered all this had been done using a different shade of orange completely. A printed orange. Rather than have everything reprinted, the frugal councillors realised it would be easier to ask for the prototype livery, as worn by an un-identified Fleetline, to be altered. They asked for a bespoke orange to be made, based on the printed orange used in all the publicity purchased.

This was to become Colour Reference WD40, all details for which have since been lost.

However, luck was on my side as I'd been loaned an original stylised GCT fleet name sticker, on reflective orange. I've been comparing this 'in the flesh' with shades of orange online. The two shades are below. The darker shade (bottom) is the fleet name sticker, the lighter (top) is a Pantone - the closest match.

The fleet name sticker was stuck onto the white painted centre section of the Fleetlines. However, with the Falcons, Tigers and Leopards, it was stuck onto the orange paint and I have photos that show the orange paint was a slightly lighter shade than that used in the fleet name sticker, so I'm hopeful this may be as closed as I can get.

​​As with any paint mix based on a printed colour, I've been made aware it may not be exact, but since this is the closed shade to that which GCT used between 1987 and 1993, I have little else to go on. And besides, I now know that the GCT Orange 1990 (which was actually applied from early 1987 onwards) was based on a printed orange anyway.

I will keep you posted.

For now, it appears that GCT 113 is wearing the original, prototype orange and white livery, applied to one Fleetline only to be replaced very soon after with the orange and white we all came to know.

I will also upload two photos of GCT 113 in its one-off orange and white guise when the bus has been successfully repainted in the correct orange.

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