The stamps pay tribute to the ‘workhorses’ of Welsh railways in the latest Classic Locomotives stamp set, which go on sale from 20 February. The F&WHR and the Welshpool & Llanfair were chosen as the launch locations.
Hunslet 589 Blanche stars on the 78p stamp and the loco was lined up in the same position featured in the photograph on the stamp, taken 50 years earlier, wearing the same Y Cymro headboard.
Blanche is one of more than twenty Ffestiniog steam engines - some of them more than 150 years old - that still pull trains through 40 miles of glorious scenery in the heart of Snowdonia. Some started work in 1863 and are still in regular use today.
The earliest railways in Wales were built for commercial and industrial purposes and served collieries and smelting works. Classic Locomotives of Wales features steam locomotives used not just on the public railway network, but also in many industrial settings, the main one being the transportation of coal from the steep narrow valleys to ports such as Cardiff and Barry.
Across the emerging railway network, steam locomotives of all shapes and sizes faithfully hauled their loads, cared for by a vast army of drivers and firemen, engineers and mechanics.
Classic Locomotives of Wales is the last in a series of four miniature sheets that began in England in 2011, continuing in Scotland in 2012 and Northern Ireland in 2013.
Working in collaboration with railway experts, Royal Mail’s stamp design team reviewed thousands of photographs to find these period photos of steam locomotives in Wales.
The stamps come in a fully illustrated Presentation Pack. Inside the pack, Welsh railway historian, David Gwyn, takes a look at Wales’ steam railways and the impact the steam locomotive had on Welsh history.
Featured on the four stamps are:
1st Class – LMS No. 7720
LMS 7720 leaves the Britannia Bridge with a Bangor-to-Holyhead local train c.1930.
78p - Hunslet No. 589 Blanche
Blanche rounds the curve off ‘The Cob’, passing Pen Cob Halt on the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway, 1964.
88p - W&LLR No. 822 The
The Earl waits on Union Street, Welshpool, while a car is moved from the line.
£1.28 - BR 5600 No. 5652
BR 5600 No. 5652 heads a coal train at Cwmbargoed, Merthyr Tydfil, 1959.
For almost 50 years, Royal Mail’s Special Stamp programme has commemorated and celebrated events and anniversaries pertinent to UK heritage and life. Today, there are an estimated 2.5 million stamp collectors and gifters in the UK and millions worldwide. Her Majesty the Queen approves all UK stamp designs before they are printed.
The stamps and stamp products are available at all Post Office branches, or online at www.royalmail.com/classiclocomotives