Great Britain’s Royal Mail will conclude its Classic Locomotives series Feb. 20 with a souvenir sheet picturing four steam locomotives of Wales.
The series began in 2011 with locomotives of England (Scott 2865), followed by Scotland in 2012 (3111) and Northern Ireland in 2013 (3197-3198).
New versions of the stamps from all four souvenir sheets are united in a prestige booklet also to be issued Feb. 20. In addition to stamps, the booklet contains illustrations and text.
Like the previous issues in the series, the Classic Locomotives of Wales souvenir sheet includes four se-tenant (side-by-side) stamps reproducing photographs of locomotives.
Royal Mail describes these steam locomotives as the “workhorses” of the railways.
The first stamp in the new souvenir sheet features the London, Midland and Scottish (LMS) Railway 2F 7720, circa 1930, pulling a Bangor-to-Holyhead train. This locomotive was built in 1895.
In the black-and-white photograph shown on the stamp, the locomotive has just left Britannia Bridge over Menai Straight. The bridge connects the island of Anglesey to the mainland of Wales.
One of John Thomas’ lion sculptures that stand at both entrances to the bridge is pictured on the stamp.
This stamp is nondenominated with a “1st” inscription at lower left, indicating that it pays the domestic first-class rate. The other stamps in the souvenir sheet bear denominations.
The 78-penny stamp pictures the Hunslet No. 589 Blanche, circa 1964. In the color photograph, Blanche is rounding the curve off the Cob, passing Pen Cob Halt on the Ffestiniog Railway. To the side of the train, a cow can be seen standing in water.
Built in the late 19th century, a restored Blanche still makes the 13½-mile journey on this narrow-gauge railway, from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Another named locomotive, The Earl, is shown on the 88p stamp. Built in 1902 for the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway, The Earl, W&LLR No. 822, has been restored and remains in service.
The main action on the 1953 black-and-white photograph on the stamp is behind the locomotive, where two men are pushing a car off the line on Union Street in Welshpool.
The £1.28 high value of the set shows the British Rail 5600 No. 5652 freight engine heading a coal train at Cwmbargoed in 1959. Built in 1926, the locomotive was retired in 1962.
The sepia-toned photograph in the background of the sheet shows the BR Class 5101 2-6-2T No. 4126.
Delaney Design Consultants designed the souvenir sheet, and International Security Printers printed it by offset.
The sheet measures 179 millimeters by 74mm, and the stamps are 41mm by 30mm, perforated gauge 14.5 by 14.
The booklet contains five panes of stamps, one for each souvenir sheet in the series, plus a pane of definitive stamps.
The definitive pane includes nine stamps: two 2p and two 5p Queen Elizabeth Machin head stamps and four nondenominated first-class country definitives showing farm fields of Northern Ireland and the national flags of England, Scotland and Wales.
Each of the other four panes includes two nondenominated first-class stamps and two stamps of the following denominations: 60p for the Classic Locomotives of England; 68p for Scotland; and 78p for Northern Ireland and Wales.
Joh. Enschede of the Netherlands printed the booklet by offset. Robert Gwynne, associate curator of railway vehicles at the National Railway Museum in York, wrote the text for the booklet.
Additional products produced in conjunction with the Classic Locomotives of Wales issue include a first-day cover, a presentation pack with text by Welsh railway historianDavid Gwyn, and five picture postcards showing enlarged images of the four stamps and the souvenir sheet.
The web address of Royal Mail’s online stamp shop is www.royalmail.com/personal/stamps-collectibles-gifts. The mail address is Royal Mail, Tallents House, 21 S. Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9PB, Scotland. Royal Mail’s two agencies in the United States are Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557; and the British Stamp Service in North America, 1 Unicover Center, Cheyenne, WY 82008.