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Europe/Great Britain : Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

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2010ccg
10 Sep 2016
06:18:24pm
I have in my collection of Cinderellas and local posts several UK Railway stamps and covers that were transported via the heritage trains eg West Somerset and Great Western Most are postmarked in the 60`s to early 90`s ..My question is ....... These trains are still carrying sightseers but *Do they still carry and cancel mail ?*
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2010ccg
12 Sep 2016
06:47:36am
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

I have found several interesting videos of the heritage train rides but no mention of stamps and letter mail...Can anyone add to this ?

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malcolm197
28 Sep 2016
02:12:08am
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

If you google "railway letter service" it will bring up an article on the "Nene Valley Railway" ( or if this fails outside the UK go via the railway website). This goes through the historical and legal details in general then continues on the NVR in particular. There is a reference to the service in 2016, so I guess it may still be available.

It is possible that the revenue generated does not justify the cost for all railways so some may not do it.

Note that for home delivery the appropriate UK postage must be added - the railway stamp only pays for the railway conveyance.

Any revenue raised is for a good cause. While these railways are mainly operated by volunteers ( there is usually a core staff of professionals on the larger lines ) they are run to the highest possible safety standards, and the impression is extremely authentic ( I remember British Rail steam in it's last somewhat run-down days). However the locomotives and rolling stock are much cleaner and in better condition than I recall !!

Perusal of one or more of the websites is time well spent for any railway buffs out there,and overseas visitors should take the time to visit at least one ( most run summer and/or weekends only). Even if you don't have time for a ride a walk onto the station is a journey back in time.

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snowy12
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12 Dec 2016
02:05:33am

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re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Malcolm 197 wrote

Perusal of one or more of the websites is time well spent for any railway buffs out there,and overseas visitors should take the time to visit at least one ( most run summer and/or weekends only). Even if you don't have time for a ride a walk onto the station is a journey back in time.

I was a mad keen train spotter while a kid in the UK ,it was nothing to do a round trip on our push bikes of a 100 miles to go loco spotting.
The demise of steam didn't help (Thanks Mr Beeching) and the closure of many lines.
Getting back to now, during a holiday back to the UK in 2012 we stayed for a while in Somerset and did several trips on The West Somerset Railway, Oh to be steam hauled again.
When I lived in the UK the closest I got to the Western Region locos was in London All the different regions had stations in London, a Locospotters dream.
I didn't see any mention of railway mail on this particular line though.But they have some beautifully restored locos running on it.
The NYMR used to put out railway letter stamps I have a nice collection of their issues.
Some of the locos running on the West Somerset Railway.Image Not Found
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Image Not Found
Brian

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doomboy
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12 Dec 2016
11:34:26am
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Flanders and Swann - Slow Train

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6OHD2uCpfU

A nostalgic look at the Beeching cuts.

Seeing the sign to Minehead, I can't help but think of the Monty Python sketch where 'Mr. Hilter' runs as an MP in the East Minehead by-election.

"Not much fun in Stalingrad..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VSTzGwkMiM

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rvangorder
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APS life member of 25+ years
19 Dec 2016
01:34:23pm
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Based on limited research on my part - British Heritage Railroads do not carry actual mail. They produce their own "stamps"/carriage labels and covers as a fund raising method and carry these. Only Royal Mail can sanction mail transport on regular railroad lines.

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2010ccg
19 Dec 2016
02:19:59pm
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Yes Rick you are correct

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malcolm197
02 Jan 2017
12:27:05pm
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Individual postal items are never transmitted by rail on behalf of Royal Mail.

Even bulk mail now goes by road and/or air.

The railway letter service was instituted in the 19th century, when you could buy a letter stamp from the railway company and attach it and an official Post Ofice Stamp to an envelope. The Railway letter stamp would pay for the conveyance by train to rail head whereupon it would be inserted in the Post Office Mail Stream. This would allow a later "posting" in rural areas and still have an early delivery the following day.

While I cannot say whether this would be legal today, I have seen covers addressed to individuals in the past using a"souvenir" railway letter envelope with a RLS stamp and a GPO stamp.

Malcolm

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snowy12
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05 Apr 2017
06:35:19am

Auctions - Approvals
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Hi Malcolm
You mean like this cover for the Nene Valley Railway
Image Not Found
Brian

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malcolm197
05 Apr 2017
12:53:05pm
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Yes that is it exactly. However you will note that as there is no address shown it did not actually pass into the national mailstream.

I am fairly certain that if a Royal Mail stamp is affixed as in the example shown it would be quite legal for this to be delivered.

However....( and it is a big however! ), I think the fact that the railway cancelled the Royal Mail stamp as well as the railway letter stamp might well invalidate it. Im my opinion the Royal Mail stamps should pass into the mail stream uncancelled so that the sorting office can cancel the stamp prior to onward transmission.

I must admit that I am not sufficiently cognicant of the postal regulations to be sure of this, but I am aware that individuals at the post office handling the mail might have a negative view on this.

Malcolm

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snowy12
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05 Apr 2017
06:44:58pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Hi
Is this what you mean?
Image Not Found

Brian

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malcolm197
06 Apr 2017
05:38:06pm
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Yes - I believe that that is the correct way to despatch a railway letter. The railway stamp has been cancelled by the railway and the Post Office Stamps have been cancelled at the Post Office and the mail was presumably delivered to the addressee.

It is fair to say that modern railway letters are all philatelically contrived.In this case the Royal Mail stamps have been hand cancelled at the local sub- post office rather than put into the mail stream, and I strongly suspect that the recipient is an employee or volunteer of the railway - and it has been done so that the cover can be resold in the Railway shop.

Interestingly Penrhyndeudreath is an intermediate station on the line,as is Dduallt, the termini being Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog - so the method used to get this item into and out of circulation is obviously a matter of operational convenience ( and/or the cooperation of the sub-postmaster). The railway is a huge contributor to the local economy of which is at best a marginally prosperous region, and as such generates an awful lot of goodwill with the locals. While the line is heavily dependant on (free) voluntary labour there will be core of qualified professional paid locals ( engineers, drivers and safety staff ), and is a significant employer.

The line is narrow ( 1foot 11 1/2 inch) gauge and was built in the 19th century to convey slate from the quarries in the Ffestiniog region to the sea at Porthmadog.

It has to be said that the production of such mail is quite labour intensive for modest return - but as the labour is free - every little helps.

see www.festrail.co.uk

Malcolm

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sheepshanks
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06 Apr 2017
07:16:59pm
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

I've ridden on that line a few times, from Porthmadog up to the slate quarries, nice journey and the quarries are well worth a visit. Especially now that they have a zip line across the quarry pit and trampoline nets inside the mine.

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auldstampguy
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Just one more small cover .....
07 Apr 2017
07:16:55pm
re: Heritage Railroads and Letter Service

Nice cover Brian.

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