News and press releases

  • Royal Mail
    Royal Mail's stamp of the opening of the Metropolitan Railway, marking the 150th anniversary of London Underground
    8 January 2013
    Royal Mail celebrates 150 years of the London Underground
  • Royal Mail is issuing a set of ten special stamps, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Underground
  • The stamps are issued on 9th January 2013 which marks the exact date of the opening of the Metropolitan Railway between Paddington Station and Farringdon Street – the first part of what was to become the London Underground
  • The world’s oldest underground transportation network covers 402 kilometres of track, serves 270 stations, runs across 11 lines, and carries 1.2 billion passengers per year
  • Many facets of both British urban and suburban life through the ages are depicted by the stamps, from the original steam powered trains to the magnificent Art Deco station designs of Charles Holden that still stand to this day
  • The stamps show a timeline of the development of the London Underground from the first steam driven Metropolitan Line service to the most modern Jubilee Line station, Canary Wharf
  • The London Underground stamp collection will be accompanied by four stamps in a miniature sheet, which celebrates the rich design heritage of the London Underground, reproducing classic posters from history
  • The stamps will be available in Post Offices from 9th January 2013, online at and by phone on 08457 641 641
  • The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "London Underground was the first transport system of its kind, embodying the engineering ingenuity of our Victorian forefathers and providing a template for similar schemes around the world. These wonderful memorial stamps marking 150 years of service are a fitting celebration of London Underground's rich heritage and its iconic place in our city's life."

Royal Mail is today issuing a set of ten Special Stamps to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. Six stamps show a timeline of the development of the London Underground ranging from the first steam driven Metropolitan Line service through to a striking image of Canary Wharf, the most modern Jubilee Line station. There is also a special four stamp miniature sheet focusing on the design heritage of London Underground posters.

Andrew Hammond, Royal Mail Stamps spokesperson, said: “After a year where images of London were beamed around the world, showing this great city in all its glory and splendour, it’s quite fitting that we should begin 2013 celebrating one of London’s hidden treasures.

“The breadth and scale of the London Underground is a wonder to behold. These beautifully designed stamps pay tribute to one of London’s greatest and most iconic assets, one that has served it so well for over 150 years, and will continue to do so for many more years to come.”

In January 1863, London’s Metropolitan Railway opened the first underground service in the world. This went from Paddington to Farringdon with the aim of linking the mainline termini with the City of London. This is celebrated on two 2nd Class stamps, one marking 1863 and showing a steam locomotive on the Metropolitan Line, and the other showing the excavation of a tube tunnel by railway construction workers in 1898.

There are two 1st Class stamps in the issue, the first of which depicts a traditional 1911 commute from the suburbs with a carriage of Edwardian ladies and gentlemen illustrated on their journey to work. Boston Manor, a traditional Art Deco station rebuilt in 1934, takes pride of place on the second 1st Class stamp in the set and perfectly demonstrates the distinctive, defining look of the mid-1920s modern London.

Classic Rolling Stock, the trains introduced on the tube’s deep cut lines in 1938, are depicted on one of the £1.28 stamps, with the final stamp in the set showcasing one of the most recent additions to the London Underground network, Canary Wharf station (£1.28). Designed by Sir Norman Foster, the Jubilee Line Extension, which included Canary Wharf, marked a return to the high design standards of the pre-war years.

The miniature sheet of four stamps celebrates the poster art that has defined the London Underground for more than a century. The pictorial poster was a distinctive and highly effective medium for promoting all aspects of the London Underground and later London Transport. The visual images brought modern art and design to a huge audience and many of the artists commissioned were influenced by the avant-garde European art movements of the early 20th century. This brought Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism to the general public of Britain and the four stamps have three classic London Underground posters on each.

Natasha Ayivor
Royal Mail Press Office
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0HQ
Tel: 020 7449 8250
Mobile: 07436 280002

For almost 50 years, Royal Mail’s Special Stamp programme has commemorated and celebrated events and anniversaries pertinent to UK heritage and life. Today, there are an estimated 2.5 million stamp collectors and gifters in the UK and millions worldwide. Her Majesty the Queen approves all UK stamp designs before they are printed.

Stamps and stamp products are available at all Post Office Branches, online at and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

Facts about London Underground

  • In the mid 19th century, it took longer to cross the congested centre of town by horse-drawn bus or cab than to travel up to London from Brighton by train – the solution was a scheme to build an underground railway
  • After the Metropolitan Line was opened in 1863, a second underground line, now known as the District Line was built along the Thames Embankment and in 1884 the two railways were joined up to create the Circle Line
  • By 1907 London had an electric underground network thanks to investment from American entrepreneur Charles Tyson Yerkes
  • By the 1920s the Underground built extensions out to Edgware in the north and Morden in the south of London and in the early 1930s, the Piccadilly Line was extended at both ends. This allowed Londoners to easily access the centre of town and take advantage of the theatres, cinemas and entertainment that the city had to offer
  • Frank Pick became the first Chief Executive of London Transport (the merger of various bus, tram and underground railway operations) and he believed strongly in the benefits of good design
  • Pick appointed calligrapher Edward Johnson to devise a special typeface for the Underground which was combined with the distinctive bar and circle to create the logo – still in use a century later
  • The first diagrammatic Underground map, designed by Harry Beck, was issued in 1933 and has become an iconic symbol of London. It has also featured as part of Royal Mail’s 2009 stamp issue British Design Classics
  • The extended Jubilee Line played a crucial part in serving the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • The London Underground system now carries well over one billion people a year


London Underground, stamp by stamp

2nd Class – 1863 - Metropolitan Railway Opens
A contemporary lithograph of a steam locomotive on the Metropolitan line near Paddington Station. 

2nd Class – 1898 - Tunnelling Below London Streets 
Railway construction workers, known as Navvies, shown excavating a ‘deep cut’ tube tunnel.

1st Class – 1911 – Commute from the Suburbs
A carriage of Edwardian ladies and gentlemen illustrated on their commute to work from the suburbs. 

1st Class – 1934 – Boston Manor Art Deco Station
Suburban expansion of the Piccadilly Lines in the 1920s and 30s led to the construction of many iconic art deco stations.

£1.28 – 1938 - Classic Rolling Stock 
The classic trains introduced on the tube’s deep cut lines in 1938 became a London icon. 

£1.28 – 1999 – Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf 
Designed by Sir Norman Foster, Canary Wharf Station is one of the most recent additions to the Underground network.

London Underground Miniature Sheet stamp by stamp

1st Class – London Underground Posters – Golders Green, By Underground to fresh air and Summer sales 
Reproductions of three classic London Underground Posters: Golders Green (1908) by an unknown artist 1908; By Underground to fresh air (1915) by Maxwell Armfield; Summer Sales (1925) by Mary Koop.

77p – London Underground Posters – For the Zoo, Power and The seen
Reproductions of three classic London Underground Posters: – For the Zoo (1921) by Charles Paine; Power (1931) by Edward McKnight-Kauffer and The seen (1948) by James Fitton.

87p – London Underground Posters – A train every 90 seconds, Thanks to the Underground and Cut travelling time 
Reproductions of three classic London Underground Posters: A train every 90 seconds (1937) by Abram Games; Thanks to the Underground (1935) by Zero (Hans Schleger) and Cut travelling time, Victoria Line (1969) by Tom Eckersley.

£1.28 – London Underground Posters – The London Transport Collection, London Zoo and The Tate Gallery by Tube 
Reproductions of three classic London Underground Posters: The London Transport Collection (1975) by Tom Eckersley; London Zoo (1976) by Abram Games and The Tate Gallery by Tube (1987) by David Booth (Fine White Line Design).