Interesting and hard-to-find part set, featuring three of the four stamps (as illustrated) from the inaugural Mid-Hants Railway Preservation Society Limited railway letter stamp issue, from 1977.
U/M / Unmounted Mint / MNH / Mint Never Hinged.
About the Mid-Hants 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 Mid-Hants Railway from 1977 – the year that the first section of the “Watercress Line” reopened as a heritage railway, following its closure by British Rail in 1973.
As the Railway Philatelic Group explains, however, subsequent 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, with the final North Yorkshire Moors Railway issue appearing in 1999. As of 2020, only the Talyllyn Railway, Ffestiniog Railway and Nene Valley Railway are understood to still be running a railway letter service.
For details of all Mid-Hants Issues issues, see the excellent Philatelic Compendium website.