It’s the oldest and one of the most famous railway networks in the world, now the London Underground celebrates its 150th birthday on Royal Mail’s first stamp issue of 2013.
Issued today, the London Underground issue features ten stamps; six charting the history of the network, alongside a miniature sheet of four long-format stamps focusing on the design heritage of its iconic posters.
The issue date coincides with the anniversary of the opening of what was to become London’s Underground: the steam-driven Metropolitan Railway running between Paddington Station and Farringdon Street via Kings Cross. On 9 January 1863 the Metropolitan Railway opened, passengers were able to use the service from 10 January 1863 and within months 26,000 people were using it every day.
Fittingly it’s the Metropolitan Railway that features on the first of two 2nd class stamps, while the other shows railway workers, or Navvies as they were known commonly, excavating a tube tunnel.
Edwardian commuters travelling in from the suburbs are depicted on one of the 1st class pair of stamps, while the other features the Piccadilly Line’s Boston Manor, an example of many art deco stations built in the 1920s and 30s.
Classic rolling stock travelling on the tube’s ‘deep cut’ lines in 1938 and Sir Norman Foster’s Canary Wharf Station make up the £1.28p pair.
Each of the stamps features a timeline across the lower quarter of the stamps using different livery colours taken from London Underground lines.
The miniature sheet features a total of 12 classic London Underground posters across four long-format (60mm x 30mm) stamps.
Philip Parker, Royal Mail Stamps spokesperson, said:
The London Underground has a unique status as the oldest and one of the busiest underground railway networks in the world.
For this first stamp issue of 2013 we have tried to capture the incredible history behind ‘the Tube’, which for millions of people is an integral element of their daily lives and an iconic part of London’s identity.
Both London Underground and Royal Mail share a rich and extraordinary design heritage, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a dozen classic Underground posters, featuring several artists who also designed posters for the General Post Office (GPO).
You can see a selection of GPO posters in our online exhibition Designs on Delivery. The Design on Delivery exhibition will be seen at the Great Western Hospital, Swindon, from 19 March as part of the Paintings in Hospitals scheme.
Royal Mail stamps and stamp products are available at most Post Office branches, online at www.royalmail.com/underground and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.