Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"Railway Themes"


Mr. Frank Beattie



There was an air of excitement at Friday’s meeting of the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society. The guest speaker, Frank Beattie, gave a wonderful display on "Rail Locomotives Through the Years". With Stamps, postcards, trade cards, miniature sheets from many countries around the world every aspect of the subject was illustrated.


He began from Richard Trevithick’s "Puffing Devil", a high pressure steam locomotive built in Wales in 1804. It proved unsuccessful but was a prototype of "Puffing Billy" – built in 1813 – and is the oldest surviving steam locomotive. This was used to carry coal from the Wylam Colliery to the docks. Robert Stephenson’s "Rocket" - with its 0-2-2 wheel arrangement - which won the Rainhill Trials on the Liverpool-Manchester line in 1829. This was the first steam locomotive capable of carrying passengers. It was on the Stockton Darlington line that it first carried public passengers. Two stamps on display reminded all of the "navvies" who were involved in the building of the Liverpool-Manchester line.


The display continued to detail the development of the locomotives through the years with the changing wheel arrangements – from 0-2-2 to 2-2-2 and on to 4-2-2. The changing capability of the Boiler – and the continuously evolving design of the locomotives were viewed.


Steam eventually gave way to Diesel and Electric – Robert Davidson, born in Aberdeen, in 1842 built the first full size electric locomotive – "Galvani" – this was tested on the Edinburgh-Glasgow line but, at a speed of 4mph and powered by zinc-acid expensive batteries – it was totally uneconomic. In 1883, Magnus Volk built a narrow gauge railway line on the seafront at Brighton – and this is the oldest operating electric railway in the world - (used today as a tourist attraction). In 1883 this was powered by 50v DC supply – today it is 110v DC.


The display continued with stamps etc showing Electric trams around the world (including a postcard of a Glasgow Tram);  Funicular railways – including the Snowdon Mountain Railway – opened in 1896; a narrow gauge rack and pinion railway where single carriages are pushed up by either steam or diesel engine. Views also of the Bergen Mountain Railway. A set of Railway Trade Cards – and also Danish Parcel Stamps used on the railways. Finally a miniature sheet showing a stamp of Queen Victoria and illustrating a locomotive named "Queen Empress" – this sent to the Chicago Exhibition in 1893. It ran an LNWR train from Chicago to New York - the only British train ever run in the USA.


David Haig expressed warm thanks to Frank Beattie for presenting members with such an informative and fascinating display!


Our next meeting in the Caledonian Bowling Club, Motherwell Road, Hamilton, is on Friday, 5th April 2024, at 7:30pm when members will present One board on any subject – or – pay £1!  

Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc is very welcome to attend.