London Underground 150th stamps

As part of the celebrations for London Underground’s 150th anniversary, the Royal Mail is to release stamps featuring famous artwork created for the network

As part of the celebrations for London Underground’s 150th anniversary, the Royal Mail is to release stamps featuring famous artwork created for the network

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.”

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.


Lithograph one of the first underground passenger trains depicted near Paddington station (Praed Street), 1863


Construction work in progress at British Museum Underground station, Central London Railway. Unknown photographer, January 1898


Detal of illustration used on poster publicity encouraging underground travel.


Detail of poster illustration by Tom Eckersley showing Boston Manor station, built in 1934


AN Wolstenholme drawing of 1938 rolling stock which appears on the cover of an Ian Allan ABC spotter’s book


Canary Wharf London Underground Station, Jubilee Line Extension designed by Foster and Partners. Photographer Paul Grundy


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


and Edwina Ellis




The set of four stamps by NB each features three classic London Underground advertising posters.



“There’s a wealth of beautiful posters to choose from [in the TFL archive] so it was difficult to choose just four in total,” says NB’s Nick Finney. “So, we played with multiple posters in a row across a longer format horizontal stamp. We wanted to evoke posters being displayed in the tunnel of the underground station (the modern train speeding past) and the windows of a carriage.”


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


“Once we had the concept down it was a case of researching specific styles, eras and artists in order to ensure we were representing the best set of 16 posters over 4 stamps we could,” Finney continues.


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

“We explored different ways to select our final posters and give a fair representation of the posters’ history. We started by looking at themes; distinguishing each set of four posters by colour, by topic. Chronologically? While these were good starting points, in the end it became a decision based on what worked best visually as a set, reduced down from over a metre in height down to around 20mm. We had to be careful to cross-check our sources and gain the necessary permissions. That’s where the team at TFL came in handy; providing the expertise on choices, sources and facts,” Finney says.


Posters featured (l to r): A Train Every 90 Seconds, by Abram Games, 1937; Thanks to the Underground, by Zero, 1935; Cut Travelling Time; Victoria line, by Tom Eckersley, 1969

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

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