On the 50th Anniversary of the building of British Rail’s last steam locomotive Evening Star Royal Mail take a look back at the glory days of steam power by commemorating railways on stamps.
1st Class – LMS Coronation Class Coronation at Euston Station, 1937
1st Class – BR Class 9F – Evening Star at Midsomer Norton, 1962
67p – GWR King Class – King William IV photographed near Teignmouth, 1935
67p – LNER Class A1 – Royal Lancer (location unknown), 1929
97p – SR King Arthur Class – Sir Mador de la Porte at Bournemouth Central, c.1935–39
97p – LMS NCC Class WT – Engine No 2at Larne Harbour, c.1947
The steam locomotive has long been more than a piece of machinery; symbolising an age of unprecedented mobility and British industrial prowess, when the locomotive rapidly became a powerful marketing tool.The engine that first secured the future of steam locomotion was of course Stephenson’s Rocket, at the 1829 Rainhill Trials in Merseyside, which won the crowd’s imagination as much with its bright yellow paintwork as the stunning top speed of 29mph.
By the end of the 19th century, numerous private railway companies competed fiercely across the British Isles. Their best passenger trains were by world standards fast, comfortable – and needed to be filled if money was to be made. In 1923 with profits diminishing due to the increasing competition from cars, buses and lorries, over 120 private railway companies were merged into the Big Four: the London, Midland & Scottish (including the Northern Counties Committee (NCC) in Northern Ireland), the London & North Eastern, the Great Western and the Southern Railways.
After the Second World War the Big Four became British Railways (BR) in 1948, with the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) taking responsibility for most routes in Northern Ireland. In March 1960, Evening Star brought to an end over 130 years of steam-locomotive building for Britain’s mainline railways, leaving Swindon Works in a blaze of publicity in 1960, destined for a working life of only five years. This year also marks the 175th Anniversary of the GWR.
1st Class – LMS Coronation Class
The streamlined Coronation Class locomotive Coronation of the London Midland and Scottish Railway at the platform in London’s Euston Station in 1938. Introduced at the height of the 1930s streamlining craze and named in honour of the accession of King George VI, a Coronation was displayed at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The streamlining was removed in the 1940s to save on maintenance.
1st Class – BR Class 9F
Evening Star, the last of the British Rail Class 9F locomotive is shown here at Midsomer Norton in 1962. The 9F was designed to pull heavy freight trains. But a few, like Evening Star, were used on passenger services, particularly on the steeply graded Somerset and Dorset line.
67p – GWR King Class
The photograph shows the Great Western Railway’s King Class locomotive – King William IV near Teignmouth in 1935. The Kings were the GWR’s star locomotives, equally at home on heavy holiday trains and crack business expresses. Publicised as the UK’s most powerful express steam engine, the sleek lines of King George V wowed crowds when touring the USA in 1927.
67p – LNER Class A1
The stamp shows the London North East Region Class A1 locomotive, Royal Lancer photographed in 1929. The LNER’s first standard design for long-distance expresses, the A1s included the Flying Scotsman, the first UK steam engine officially to reach 100mph. Modernised from the 1930s the class was still hauling important passenger trains in the early 1960s.
97p – SR King Arthur Class
Named after a character from the legends of King Arthur the Southern Region King Arthur Class locomotive, Sir Mador de la Porte, was photographed at Bournemouth Central Station between 1935 – 1939. The King Arthurs proved to be fine locomotives capable of handling the Southern’s heaviest express trains. Displaced by more modern engines from the 1940s, they hauled secondary services into the 1960s.
97p – LMS NCC Class WT
A London Midland and Scottish Northern Counties Committee Class WT – Engine No 2 shown here at Larne Harbour, circa 1947. Based on a standard LMS design but built for the wider Irish track, the WTs were the last new steam locomotives delivered to the NCC. Widely known as ‘Jeeps’, they were a highly successful engine used on both passenger and goods trains.
Title: Great British Railways I
Date of Issue: 19 August 2010
Country: Great Britain
Denominations: 1st Class x 2, 67p x 2, 97p x 2