Definitive stamp issue by the Ffestiniog Railway from 31 May 1978, depicting three of its locomotives: Prince (5p), Taliesin (10p) and Mountaineer (15p).
U/M / Unmounted Mint / MNH / Mint Never Hinged.
About the Ffestiniog Railway
In 1957, the Talyllyn Railway became the first UK railway to issue its own railway letter stamps. Such labels were popular as souvenirs for the railway’s visitors, but also performed a postal function, paying for the carriage of mail via the railway’s own letter delivery service. Many other preserved railways followed suit with their own issues, including the Ffestiniog Railway (FR) from 1969.
The first issue, and several subsequent ones, bore the name "Festiniog Railway" - with only one F. This was, and remains, the legal spelling used by the railway's operator, the Festiniog Railway Company, as defined in the Act of Parliament that created it in 1832. However, the preferred modern spelling of both the customer-facing railway brand and the nearby places from which it takes its name (such as the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog) is with two Fs. The desire to avoid confusion may account for why most later issues by the railway are simply inscribed "F. R." or "F. R. Co".
As the Railway Philatelic Group explains, changes to the agreement between the Royal Mail, British Rail and independent railways – most recently in 1998 – has seen the number of railways offering a letter service dwindle. As of 2022, only the Talyllyn Railway, Ffestiniog Railway and Nene Valley Railway are understood to still be running a railway letter service.
For details of all past FR issues, see the excellent Philatelic Compendium website.