London Transport
Stamps

Last updated 2 July 2011



The 1891 Railway Letter Stamp agreement between the G.P.O. and most of the British railways allowed the latter to issue stamps and charge fees for the transport of letters to Post Offices. The agreement (operating through the Railway Clearing House), specified the conditions under which the service was permitted to operate and required that a label (supplied by each participating railway) to be affixed to the face of the letter. Under the Railway Letter Service, a letter could be passed from train to train and railway to railway until it was finally collected at a station, or posted at a local station near to the addressee. The original advantage of the scheme rested on it being quicker and more reliable than the ordinary Royal Mail service. As time went on most companies switched to luggage labels, often with hand written values, or latterly rubber stamps. Both the Metropolitan Railway and London Transport took advantage of this to issue their own postage stamps.

from Wikipedia; more…

Apparently the London-area railways stopped offering this service about 1941, but the agreement remained in effect until 1974 when new arrangements were made between the Post Office, British Rail, and the minor railways. A number of heritage railways have continued to offer Railway Letter Stamps, primarily as a fund-raising endeavour. BR withdrew from the service in 1984, and the Post Office signed new contracts with the remaining participating railways from the end of 1998. London Transport issued a commemorative Underground Letter Service mini-sheet in 1990 for the Tube Centenary.


Stock numbers refer to The Rev. Roger de Lacy-Spencer’s book The Railway Letter Stamps of Great Britain & Ireland 1891-1947, released in 2000 by Moorside Publishing. (This volume may be hard to find now, as only 750 copies were printed.) Additional information may be found in Great Britain & Ireland Railway Letter Stamps: A Handbook and Catalogue by Neill Oakley; first published by the Railway Philatelic Group of the UK in 1989, then reissued in 1993, 1999, and again in 2007, now in both black & white and colour editions.


METROPOLITAN RAILWAY

Letter Fee Stamps

2d

1898 2D deep carmine (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 7). In fine used condition, with a Railway pen and partial Post Office squared circle cancellations.

2d

1899 2D rose (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 8). In fine used condition, with a pen cross cancellation in black. The original gum is intact, so it must have been precancelled. At first the Railway would not sell unused stamps to collectors.

2d

A 1906 2D rose (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 21) in mint condition (although it had been mounted in an album at one time).

2d

1910 2D rose (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 22). In fine used condition with oval Railway cancel and and a partial post office cancellation. Very rare in used condition (because of rate increases), it is unpriced in the catalogue.

2d

◀ There are numerous variations of the Met’s 2D rose. This example from 1900 is de Lacy-Spencer catalogue Nº 10.


Circa 1900 cover bearing a red POST OFFICE EXPRESS label and franked with 10D Jubilee and 2D Metropolitan Railway stamps, each pen cancelled with a cross. The cover is addressed to Essex Street, Strand, London W.C., and endorsed to be handed to the express messenger at Baker Street Station. It sold for £260.00 on ebay in 2010. ▶

2d
2d on cover

2D on cover to Cambridge. The perfin design on both of the Royal Mail stamps is a large shield. The G.P.O. insisted that the normal postage be paid with Post Office stamps, as can bee seen on this cover.

3d

1920 provisional 4D on 3D rose (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 27). The figure 4 is handstamped in purple. A very rare stamp. I find it curious that the MR changed 3D stamps to 4D and vice-versa.

3d

1933 3D dull scarlet (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 31). This mint example came from the bottom right of the sheet, evidenced by the imperforate margins. A rare stamp indeed.

4d

1922? 4D rose (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 28). Another mint copy. About half of this issue were later altered in manuscript to 3D value. Only 1,500 stamps of the original 4D issue were printed.

4d

1928 3D on 4D rose (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 29). This stamp has been altered with a manuscript 3 in black ink. Only 786 stamps of this variety were issued.


Newspaper/Parcel Stamps

3d

3D Newspaper Parcel. Vermilion on a white backround, the stamp is from the top edge of the sheet showing the imperforate sheet margin.

6D black on buff roll-type parcel stamp issued at Edgware Road station, with a pencil cancellation.

6d

Luggage Labels

MR luggage label

MR luggage label

Two examples of an early style of Metropolitan Railway luggage label, thought to date from between 1906 and 1915. The labels are approximately 318" × 258" (80 × 68 mm). Both stations are in Buckinghamshire, on the line from Marylebone to Aylesbury. Both opened on 1 September 1892, and are nowadays served by Chiltern Railways.

MR luggage label

MR luggage label

The Met’s Liverpool Street Station—originally called Bishopsgate—opened on 12 July 1875, and changed its name on 1 November 1909. Croxley Green was opened on 2 November 1925, and renamed Croxley on 23 May 1949. These two labels are approximately 318" × 212" (80 × 62 mm), and are thought to date from between 1925 and 1933. They both have the same stock number (in the top left-hand corner) of 15721364, which leads me to believe that they were printed in two steps: the first with the originating station, and the second with the destination.

METROPOLITAN & GREAT CENTRAL JOINT COMMITTEE

The Metropolitan & Great Central Joint Committee operated the Metropolitan Railway’s lines from Harrow (South junction) to Chesham, Aylesbury and Verney Junction (including the Quainton Road branch and the Brill Tramway).

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2d ◀ M&GC 1907 2D blue (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 3). Used with an Edward VII 1D red. This pair had been trimmed from an Ewen envelope that was despatched from Great Missenden Station. Pen crosses and London NW machine cancel.
An uncancelled copy of the same stamp, this one with serial 4182. ▶
2d

Newspaper/Parcel Stamps

1/2d

This halfpenny green Parcel stamp was only valid for the delivery of a single newspaper. It came from the last row of the sheet, as shown by the imperforate bottom margin.

1d

A 1D green from the top right corner of the sheet. This example was not used, but given that it is has a serial number indicates that is was issued for use.

1d

The M&GC used the same design as the Great Central (ex Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire) for its Newspaper/Parcel stamps. This is an imperforate proof issue, with with no gum on the back.

2d

Another imperforate proof, this 2d green is also un-gummed.

3d

Another proof impression, this 3D stamp is also without control number, perforations or gum.

Used from 1906 to 1927, this stamp was issued on white paper in several denominations: 3D, 5D, 1′-, 1′6 (shown) and 2′-.

1/6
2/6

I’m not sure where this 2′6 stamp from Aylesbury fits on the timeline, but the serial number suggests that it may be from the early 1930s.

A later version of the M&GC’s parcel stamp, issued in at least three different denominations. The 8d example, from Chalfont & Latimer, was cancelled with an ordinary date stamp on 14 SEP 1938.

2d6d8d

Luggage Labels

The M&GC’s Harrow station opened on 2 August 1880, and was renamed on Harrow-on-the-Hill on 1 June 1894. This label, which is approximately 318" × 258" (80 × 68 mm), is thought to date from between 1906 and 1915.

M&GC luggage label

Chesham Station was opened on 9 July 1889. This label is thought to date from the period 1906–1922, and is approximately 358" × 114" (92 × 32 mm). The stock number on the left hand side reads (3769).

M&GC luggage label

This unusual blank luggage label would have been used between pairs of stations which did not have enough traffic to warrant pre-printed labels. It is the standard 318" × 258" (80 × 68 mm) size. The FROM line has GREAT MISSENDEN faintly applied with a rubber stamp. The stock number in the top left hand corner reads 15725606, and the print code in the upper-right-hand corner of H. & S.—82/20m—7/28 suggests a print date of July 1928.

M&GC luggage label

METROPOLITAN & LONDON & NORTH EASTERN RAILWAYS

In 1925 the Metropolitan Railway opened its branch from Moor Park to Watford in partnership with the London & North Eastern Railway. (The Met also shared Farringdon, Barbican and Moorgate stations on the City Widened Lines with the LNER, but that service was also operated in conjunction with the London, Midland & Scottish Railway.)

A 3D green (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 3) dating from 1928. This is a very rare stamp, as only 120 were known to have been issued.

3d

EAST LONDON RAILWAY JOINT COMMITTEE

The East London Railway was built and operated by a consortium of six railways (the “Joint Committee”): the Great Eastern (GER), the London, Brighton & South Coast (LB&SCR), the London, Chatham & Dover (LCDR), the South Eastern (SER), the Metropolitan, and the Metropolitan District. Opened in stages from 1869, it ran between New Cross/New Cross Gate and Shoreditch, and had connections to all its parent Railways. Goods services operated until 1963, and the last connection to the main-line railways was severed in 1966.

more…

2d

1898 2D pale salmon (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 2) Typical pinhole at top left, used straight line SHADWELL cancel. These stamps were issued singly and pinned together. Only 120 stamps of this issue and much rarer than the catalogue pricing suggests.

Three examples of the 1898 pale brownish orange railway letter fee stamp (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 4). All three have the typical pinhole at different points (upper-right for the first, and bottom right for the second and third) because these stamps were issued singly and pinned together. The first is a type I, as can be noted by the extra space above the letter ‘R’ in RAILWAY. The third exhibits a straight line WAPPING cancel, while the other two were cancelled by a simple pen cross.

2d 2d 2d
2d

1910 2D deep rose red (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 8) No pinhole type II used straight line WAPPING cancel. These stamps were issued singly, and only about 240 stamps of this variety were printed.

1922 4D green (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 11). A rare stamp, this is number 124 of only 200 issued. It is from the right side of the sheet and shows the wide imperforate margin.

4d

NORTH LONDON RAILWAY

The North London Railway provided an important commuter service to and from the City. Today much of its route is used by London Overground and the Docklands Light Railway.

more…

2d

1898 2D green (de Lacy-Spencer Nº 2). In used condition with blue crayon cancel and a neat circular EDINBURGH 1899 Post Office date-stamp. This one came from the top of the sheet, as shown by the imperforate margin.

A pair of 1′- parcel stamps with SHOREDITCH overprint and oval cancellations in violet ink.

NLR 1'- parcel stamp
NLR luggage label NLR luggage label

This is an interesting pair of luggage labels, as neither destination was on the North London Railway: Bushey (Bushey & Oxhey) was served by Bakerloo and London & North Western trains from Willesden Junction, while Gloucester Road would have been reached via District Railway trains at Gunnersbury or West Ham.

London Transport


These LTB parcel stamps are probably from the London Passenger Transport Board (1933–1948), rather than the later London Transport Board which operated from 1963 to 1970. The first London Transport Executive existed from 1948 to 1963.


N_LTE- 1d N_LTE- 4d N_LTE- 9d N_LTE- 10d
N_LTB- 5d N_LTB- 6p

A sheet of unused London Transport Board Newspaper Parcel Stamps, each of 6 (old) pence denomination. The sheet contains 40 stamps, each sized approximately 1¼" × 2", with consecutive serial numbers C43280 to C43319.

N_LTB- 6d

1990 Tube Centenary

For the 100th anniversary of the City & South London tube in 1990, the Underground Letter Service issued a mini-sheet of four 95p stamps, with end views of an 1890 tube locomotive, and three genereations of tube stock: 1923, 1938 and 1972.

The Royal Mail British Design Classics series was issued 13th January 2009, and contained two iconic London Transport designs:

Underground Map Routemaster Bus
London Underground Map
Designed by engineering draughtsman Harry Beck.
Photograph by Jason Tozer.
Underground map & logo © & ® Transport for London.
Card size approximately 16 × 11.5 cm.
Routemaster Bus
Design team led by A.A.M. Durrant.
Photograph by Jason Tozer.
Routemaster bus courtesy of London Transport Museum.
Card size approximately 14.8 × 10.5 cm.



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