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RPSI Stamp Collection

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Royal Mail has today launched for sale stamps that celebrate the "workhorses" of Northern Ireland's railways. The stamps are entitled Classic Locomotives of Northern Ireland and feature photographs of steam locomotives in the heyday of the railways. The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland is very proud to be carrying on the tradition of generations of railwaymen and women in keeping some of these steam locomotives alive today.


The collection contains 4 stamps and a cover sheet, a total of 5 images. The Whitehead-based RPSI can claim strong heritage connections with all 5 images.


Spokesman Mervyn Darragh explained "We feel very honoured that steam locomotives in Northern Ireland are important enough to warrant their own set of stamps. Steam locomotives are at the heart of our operations and our public Steam and Jazz trains, operating over the next 3 Friday evenings are being hauled by a steam locomotive built in 1879 and lovingly restored in Northern Ireland. Likewise, a 1922 locomotive will be running between Bray and Wicklow on Sunday 23rd June. Our engineers, the majority of them volunteers, can do magic with these machines and we would encourage anyone interested in travelling behind or helping to restore these iconic machines to get in touch with us via our website”


Stamp 1 depicts a Belfast bound express at Downhill, near Castlerock. The class of locomotive is known as the "W" class and was built in the 1930s to speed journeys northwards from Belfast. The RPSI is currently overhauling a tank-engine version of this locomotive at its base at Whitehead and hopes to be able to recreate the image on this stamp on public steam trains to Londonderry.


Stamp 2 depicts an SG3 class locomotive shunting wagons at Portadown in 1963. Unfortunately none of this class of locomotive was saved for preservation. However, the RPSI has restored a miniature SG3 which was built by railway apprentices and is now in a cabinet (built by Translink employees) on display in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra. The locomotive has been cut away to show visitors how a steam locomotive works.


Stamp 3 depicts Peckett No.2 shunting wagons at Larne. It was one of three identical 3ft gauge 0-4-0T locomotives built for the British Aluminium Company in Larne. No.1 was built in 1904, No.2 in 1906 and No.3 in 1914. No.3 became a stationary boiler around 1953, but the other two were preserved. No.1 became Tyrone on the Shane’s Castle Railway in County Antrim and is now on the Giant’s Causeway Railway at Bushmills. No.2 is at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, near Belfast.


Stamp 4 depicts County Donegal Railway locomotive "Meenglass" at Strabane in 1959. Although the scene could not now be recreated, sister locomotive "Drumboe" has been undergoing extensive rebuilding from a very poor condition at the RPSI Whitehead workshops. Funds are not currently available to complete a return to steam, but the locomotive's restoration is advanced and a return to steam trains in County Donegal could happen if funds permitted.


The cover image shows locomotive No.27 "Lough Erne" hauling a Railway Preservation Society of Ireland special train near Glynn. This locomotive is carefully stored in the RPSI sheds at Whitehead. Although there are no plans to restore No.27 at the minute, it is available to be viewed at RPSI open days at Whitehead.


The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland celebrates its 50th Anniversary next year in 2014. It is fitting that steam trains are still so important in our history that they are featured in stamp sets in this modern age. The RPSI will be running many more steam trains throughout 2013 and the public can enjoy travelling back in time, hearing the locomotive beat, smelling the smoke, steam and oil and experiencing travel from a bygone era.

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1st Class – UTA W Class No. 103

UTA Class W No.103 'Thomas Somerset' with a Belfast-bound up express between the two tunnels at Downhill, west of Castlerock c1950


78p – UTA SG3 Class No. 35

The SG3 Class locomotive shunts wagons at Portadown in 1963..


88p – Peckett No. 2

Peckett No.2 reverses wagons into the British Aluminum works at Larne in 1937.


£1.28 – CDRJC Class 5 No. 4

The Class 5 locomotive Meenglas shunts a carriage at Strabane in 1959.

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