This Thursday 10th January is the 150th anniversary of the London Underground and to commemorate this historic milestone the special stamps are to go on sale from Wednesday. Among the scenes on the 10 stamps are a steam locomotive, builders at work and a carriage of Edwardian passengers. They have been issued by the Royal Mail in celebration of the world's oldest underground transport network.
Posters featured (l to r): For the Zoo Book to Regent's Park, by Charles Paine, 1921;
Power, by Edward McKnight Kauffer, 1930; The Seen, by James Fitton, 1948
Posters featured (l to r): London Transport Collection, by Tom Eckersley, 1975; Zoo, by Abram Games, 1976; Tate Gallery by Tube, by David Booth and Malcolm Fowler and Nancy Fowler and agency Fine White Line, 1986
Posters featured (l to r): Golders Green, by unknown artist, 1908; By Underground to Fresh Air, by Maxwell Ashby Armfield, 1915; Summer Sales Quickly Reached, by Mary Koop, 1925
The stamps feature a contemporary lithograph of a steam locomotive on the Metropolitan Line near Paddington Station, a 1938 Tube train, reproductions of classic posters, and an image of Canary Wharf station.
The only problem is whether it the anniversary should be on the 9th or 10th January as a service ran on the 9th for invited VIP’s. However most historians take the opening date as when the line opened for paying passenger service so I’m sticking with this Thursday 10th January. It was actually meant to open in June 1862 but a burst in the tunnel of the River Fleet flooded the nearly complete line and caused major delays.
Unfortunately this delay meant London Underground was not the world's first Underground railway as I had thought for many years. That title actually belongs to the Ficelle of Lyon, a totally underground funicular railway which opened to passenger service in June 1862. This article explains;
|Ficelle of Lyon|
However there is no doubt that London Underground is a truly unique creation celebrating its 150th Birthday on Wednesday / Thursday and for more fascinating snippets on the world’s oldest Underground network see London’s Wunderground!
This is not the first time London Underground has been commemorated in stamps; See Great British Design Quest.
One set of six stamps, designed by Hat-Trick, forms a timeline of the development of the London Underground from the early Metropolitan Line service with its steam driven trains to the most modern Jubilee Line Station, Canary Wharf. Hat-Trick's Gareth Howat says that "Our approach was to deliberately use a mix of photography, graphic art and illustration as it’s such a rich visual subject. The only one that was commissioned was the shot of Canary Wharf, which was shot by Paul Grundy, the rest are originals, some of which we had to enhance slightly."
|Where it all began on the 10th January 1863 - The rather too unassuming |
Platform 16 at the rear of Paddington Station
A graphic device at the foot of each stamp, rendered in the colours of various LU lines and style to recall the LU map, links the stamps together and forms the timeline.
The London Underground has contributed far more than just convenient transport; it has come to represent what is best about British design, ingenuity, innovation and culture. The anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on 150 years through which British society changed immeasurably. The Royal Mint has struck two £2 coins designed by internationally acclaimed designers. The pack features a detail from the world renowned London Underground map (it’s Tower Hill station – the original location of The Royal Mint!) and they worked very closely with Transport for London to produce a design that is a fitting tribute to the Underground and its design and artistic legacy.
NB Studio meanwhile was commissioned to produce a sheet of stamps, a presentation pack and a coin pack, featuring two specially minted £2 coins for the anniversary. The coins were designed by Barber Osgerby who also designed the iconic 2012 London Olympics Torch. The ‘Roundel’ coin which has been created by designer Edwina Ellis, bears the London Underground logo which first appeared on Underground station platforms in 1908.
Not to be left out Google's doodle today (9th January!) celebrates the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.
|Google's 150th Anniversary Doodle|