Railway Companies

Railway Companies

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was established in 1881 and is now operated by Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. The railway was originally built between 1881 and 1885, making it the first transcontinental railway in Canada. The company’s UK offices were at Pall Mall, London and the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool.


The Furness Railway Company was established in 1846. Originally conceived as a mineral railway, it later played a major role in the development of the Lake District tourist industry. The line slowly expanded and for the first time the people of Furness had easy access to the rest of the country. However, by the early years of the 20th century railway traffic was falling and the Furness Railway was transformed into a tourist line. In 1923 the Furness Railway Co. was absorbed into the London, Midland & Scottish Railway.


The Great Southern & Western Railway was one of the main railway operations in Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The heart of the GS & WR was the Cork-Dublin main line, a route still important in Ireland today. In 1925 GS & WR was amalgamated with all the other railways operating wholly within the Irish Free State to form the Great Southern Railways.

The overprint pictured has been recorded only on SG 172.

The Great Northern Railway was established in 1846. The main line ran from Kings Cross London to York, with a loop line from Peterborough to Bawtry, and branch lines to Sheffield and Wakefield. GNR became part of the newly formed London & North Eastern Railway in 1923. Again, just one overprint on one issue is known.

The Great Western Railway linked London with the Midlands, the South-West and West of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833 and operated from 1838 until 1948. The GWR was the only company to keep its identity through the Railways Act 1921, which amalgamated it with the remaining independent railways within its territory, and it was finally merged at the end of 1947 when it was nationalised and became the Western Region of British Railways.

I am aware of just one overprint on SG F19. The company also used two types of handstamped overprint on this issue. It seems unlikely that these overprints served as a security device, as the stamps shown here have already been perfinned and I have yet to see any examples without a perfin. The significance of the dates in the overprint is not known. The stamps were used with Debenture Stock Interest Warrants issued by the GWR.

The London, Chatham, and Dover Railway Company was created in 1859 when the East Kent Railway was given parliamentary approval to change its name. Its lines ran through London and northern and eastern Kent to form a significant part of the Greater London commuter network. The company existed until 31st December 1922 when its assets were merged with those of other companies to form the Southern Railway.

The overprint pictured on SG 172 has also been reported on SG 488.

The Midland Railway was established in 1844. It had a large network of lines centred on the East Midlands, with its headquarters in Derby. Initially, connecting Leeds with London via the East Midlands, it went on to connect the East Midlands with Birmingham and Bristol, and with York and Manchester. In 1922 the company became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

Just the one overprint on SG 421 is known for this company.

The North Eastern Railway was formed in 1854 by the amalgamation of the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway; the York & North Midland Railway; the Malton & Driffield Railway; and the Leeds Northern Railway. The NER had a relatively compact territory extending through Yorkshire, County Durham and Northumberland, in which it had a near monopoly. In 1928 NER amalgamated with other railway companies to form the London and North Eastern Railway. Its main line survives to the present day as part of the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh.

One overprint on the 1d lilac Inland Revenue stamp is recorded for this company. The overprint legend includes the word allotment. At this time the company owned some of the land alongside the railway tracks. Some of this land was made into allotments and rented to gardeners, with revenue stamps subsequently required to pay the duty on the receipts for the payment of rent.

The South Eastern Railway Company (SER) operated in south-eastern England from 1836 until 1922. The company was formed to construct a route from London to Dover. Branch lines were later opened to Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Canterbury and other places in Kent. The SER absorbed or leased other railways, including the London & Greenwich Railway and the Canterbury & Whitstable Railway. Most of the company’s routes were in Kent, eastern Sussex and the London suburbs, with a long cross-country route from Redhill in Surrey to Reading, Berkshire. Much of the company’s early history saw attempts at expansion and feuding with its neighbours; the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LBSCR) in the west, and the London, Chatham & Dover Railway (LCDR) to the north-east. However, in 1899 the SER agreed with the LCDR to share operation of the two railways, work them as a single system and pool receipts : but it was not a full amalgamation. The SER and LCDR remained separate companies until becoming constituents of the Southern Railway on 1st January 1923.

The only recorded overprint is on the 1d Lilac.

The Limerick and Waterford Railway Act was passed on 31st May 1826 and had the distinction of being the first Act to authorise an Irish railway. However, it was not until 1845 that construction of the Waterford & Limerick Railway began. The first section of the line was opened from Limerick to Tipperary on 9th May 1948, the remainder of the line being opened in stages, finally reaching Waterford in 1854. The company eventually operated two long branch lines which extended from Limerick, north west to Sligo and south west to Tralee. In 1901 the W. & L. R. was taken over by the Great Southern & Western Railway (GS & WR).

The only recorded W. & L. R. overprint is on the 1d Lilac.

By Mark Matlach