General Telegraph 6d

Telegraph stamps of Great Britain.

Until recently, only the Post Office telegraphs were well known.
This is changing but the printed information is still out of date.
I hope to gather further information and present it here.

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Railway Telegraph cancel on 10s
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General Telegraph 6d Electric Telegraph Submarine British English & Irish British & Irish LDTC UK Electric South Eastern Railway London, Chatham and Dover Railway
General Telegraph Electric Telegraph Submarine British Telegraph English & Irish British & Irish London District UK Electric S.E.R. L.C. & D.R.
Bonelli Universal Private Telegraph Company National Telephone Company Army Telegraphs-1 Army Telegraphs-2 Railway Telegraph cancel on 10s Post Office Telegraphs Unusual Unexpected Contributions
Bonelli's Universal Tel. National Telephone Army Telegraphs 1 Army Telegraphs 2 Railway Post Office Unusual Unexpected Contributions


List of GB Railway Telegraph Numbers.

The style of these followed that for the postal cancellations, with circular for England and Wales, rectangular for Scottish (except 40A in circle) and diamond shape for Irish.
Numbers were initially issued for station names listed alphabetically, on 30 June 1870, the same month that Porthcurno landed its submarine cable. These had small (16mm) circles.
Stations that subsequently opened were allocated numbers with suffixes to maintain the alphabetical ordering. These generally had larger (22mm) circles.
Stations that closed sometimes had their number reallocated.
In the case of lost or damaged handstamps, replacements were issued, but often in a different size.
Later, about 1886, the requirement to keep things alphabetical appears to have been relaxed.
Dates in the table are given in British format dd/mm/yy.

For those wondering why I describe differences between similar types rather than simply illustrating them,
there is the matter of copyright, in addition to which I am acutely aware of how much time has been spent by others in gathering this information.
In particular, major credit has to be given to Fred W. Taylor, of the Railway Philatelic Group for decades of work on this.
For those wishing for a hard-copy of this with more detail, there is a book in the final stages of preparation.
I will provide details of this as soon as they are available.

1010 English 226A English 30B Scottish 11 Irish Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 22A on 1s Plate 14
Small 1010, Nottingham Large 226A, Unknown Scottish 30B, Bishopton (Renfrew) Irish 11, Unknown Irish 22A, Unknown

In some cases more than one railway company used a station and it may be uncertain which one operated the telegraph office.
In that case, more than one may be listed.
The first English and Welsh handstamps were issued 3 months after the Scottish ones.


Be careful though.

There are small oval handstmps (about 13x8 mm) with italic numbers found often on Inland Revenue items. These are almost certainly some kind of inspectors marks.

elliptical on 2s6d elliptical 326 on 5s elliptical on 1s


There are also circular handstamps that look very similar to the railway telegraphs, but do not match the proof book impressions.
These are presumably also inspectors marks. The numerals are taller and the circles about 17.5mm. There are also some with very small circles.

22 in circle   48 in circle   round 52 on 1s   64 in circle   1 in circle on 4d

In addition, there are a number of inspectors marks used in continental Europe that sometimes find their way onto GB stamps.
2 in circle   49 in circle   5? in circle   62 in circle   69 in circle
These are Belgian and range in size from about 11mm to a little over 12mm, but I have seen some with 3-digit numbers that might be a little larger.

There were also a range of marks used in London with variously large numbers in diamonds.
London Diamonds
When the outer parts are faint, they have sometimes been mistaken for Irish Railway telegraph cancels.


I am told "Some of the entries in the Archive Proof Books are somewhat less than copperplate and some are difficult to decipher."
This has led to many errors and uncertainty. Many corrections have been made, but more are probably needed. Further information is welcome.

The table below is compiled from information derived from a copy of the Proof Books, combined with corrections and additions derived from actual examples.
To avoid copyright issues, I am using scans of examples obtained with permission.
I still need scans of many items and contributions would be welcome.

Note for researchers: Due to the poor quality of the original material and the volume of transcription, there are some errors.
I have tried to eliminate as many as I can but would like a second opinion on others.
Things I am unsure of can be found by searching in the comments for the keyword 'Check'.
Please advise of any corrections needed.

I am given to understand that these codes are available on microfilm at the British Postal Museum & Archive under
Numerical Date Stamp Impressions Book of Railway Telegraph Stations for United Kingdom 1870 and 1882-1891, reference POST 55/65-66 (reels 54 and 55).

These may not include a lot of the Scottish and Irish items though, for which impressions were not entered in the London proof books.


Search contents      



England/Wales   Scotland   Ireland

You can mark a row by clicking on it and 'un-mark' it by clicking on it again.
Marking it will display the associated image.
If you click on an image, it will 'store' it on the left-hand side to aid comparison with other images.
Click on the image again to clear it, or on another image to replace it.
For 'Size', 'S' indicates small, about 16mm, and 'L' is the later large size about 23mm.


Numbered handstamp instructions Chippenham Form C
Numbered handstamp instructions dated March 1870, form imprint "G [719] 1800 2/70"
The back carries the directions shown below. Image courtesy of Edward Coombes.
Chippenham Form C dated 13 April 1871 with 327 railway cancel. Printed by Waterlow, small Coat of Arms. Image courtesy of Edward Coombes.


Back of handstamp instructions
Directions on the back of the form above. Courtesy of Edward Coombes.


The initial images for this have been supplied Ian Pinwill and myself.
Subsequent contributors (in no particular order) include:

Fred W. Taylor.
Ian Pinwill.
 Roger de Lacy-Spencer.
John A. McCulloch.
Edward Coombes.
Michael Carter on eBay and WWW.
John Lamonby.
Allan Oliver.
Andrew Willsher.
Anne of annec333 on eBay.
Devlan of on eBay.
Paul Sinyard of wumpit on eBay.

Terrie of Paper-and-Jewels on eBay.
Max of roystonstamps on eBay.
Clive of tilegrouting on eBay.
tbtstamps on eBay.
Chris Potts.
Peter Gorton.
Matthew Healey.
Grosvenor Auctions.
Andrew G. Lajer.
Rich of
pl877 on eBay.


So far I have only about 10% of the total images needed, so if you have any of the missing ones I would like to hear from you.
Images of Irish types are particularly needed.

If anyone wants to send me a scan (300dpi or 600dpi) of new items,
I will happily update the information.
If you have a lot of items, you can send scans of multiple items. I can easily separate them out.

Useful references:

Post Office Circulars(PDF), Reports opening and closing of Railway Telegraph Stations. For example, the circular 22/4/78 reported that 37 Midland Railway offices had closed.
I have added that information to the list, except that I cannot for Brecon (could be 207, 208 or 209). Several others needed corrections to reconcile.
No.261 had been listed as Buxton (Lamas), Norfolk, Great Eastern, but there was only one "Buxton" and that was on a Midland Railway line.
That made it Buxton, Derbyshire with both Midland and L&NW Railways, so a correction was made. Evesham (508 and 509) were both listed as GWR, but in fact had 2 stations, with one being MR
The two numbers are probably one for each, they were built next to each other. Which was which, is currently unknown.
Finchley Road was not in the listing the numbers. It should have been about 537, for which only 537 Large is listed with no 537 small. I have put the two orphans together.
Disused Stations, Closed Railway Stations in the UK.
History of rail transport in Great Britain 1830–1922
Online interactive historic railway map for British Isles and USA.

English/Welsh Railway Company abbreviations
B&M Brecon & Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
B'Head Joint Birkenhead Railway Jt   (with LNWR)
Burry Port & Gwen Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley Railway
Cam Cambrian Railways
CKP , CK&P , CK & Pen. Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway
CLC Cheshire Lines Committee 
Cleator & Workington Junc. Cleator and Workington Junction Railway
CVR , CVLR Culm Valley Light Railway
DN&SR Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway
Dyke Brighton and Dyke Railway
EL , ELR East Lancashire Railway
EWJn , E&W Jn East and West Junction Railway
Furn Furness Railway
GC , GCR Great Central Railway 
GE , GER Great Eastern Railway 
GN , GNR Great Northern Railway
GW , GWR Great Western Railway 
HB&WR Jt Hull, Barnsley and West Riding Junction Railway
IOW , I of W Isle of Wight Railway
L&EG Lewes and East Grinstead Railway
L&NWR , LNW , LNWR London and North Western Railway
L&SD Launceston and South Devon Railway
L&SW , LSW , LSWR London and South Western Railway
L&Y , L&YR , LYR Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
LB&SC , LBSC London, Brighton and South Coast Railway
LBSR London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.
LC&D, LC&DR London, Chatham and Dover Railway
LRC Lydd Railway Company
LS&P Jct Liverpool, Southport and Preston Junction Railway
LT&S , LTS London, Tilbury and Southend Railway
M&C Maryport & Carlisle Railway
M&SWJR Midland and South Western Junction Railway
N&SWJR North & South Western Junction Railway
M&GN Jt Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway
M , Mid , MR Midland
Maw. Mawddwy Railway
Met. Metropolitan Railway
MSJAR , MSJ&A Manchester, South Junction & Altrincham Railway
MSW Jn Midland and South Western Junction Railway
MS&L , MS&LR Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway
N&B Newcastle and Berwick,

English/Welsh continued.
N&M Newtown and Machynlleth Railway 
NE , NER North Eastern Railway
Neath&Brecon Neath and Brecon Railway
NS , N.Staff North Staffordshire Railway
P&Wyre Jt Preston and Wyre Joint Railway
S&H Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway
S&W , S&WR Severn and Wye Railway
S&Welshp'l Shrewsbury and Welshpool Railway
SB , SBR Severn Bridge Railway
S.Devon Rly , SDR South Devon Railway
SD , S&D Somerset and Dorset Railway
SE , SER South Eastern Railway
SE&C , SE&CR South Eastern and Chatham Railway formed 1899
SMJR Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway
Swan & Mum, S&M Swansea and Mumbles Railway
Sby&H  Shrewsbury and Hereford
TV , Taff V. Taff Vale Railway
W&CR Whitland & Cardigan Railway
WC&E Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway
W.Lancs , WLR West Lancashire Railway
WLEx Jt West London Extension Railway 
WR&G West Riding and Grimsby Railway

Scottish Railway Company abbreviations
Cal Caledonian Railway
C&OR Callander & Oban Rlwy.
Cal & GSW Jt Caledonian & Glasgow South Western Joint Railway
CGU & NB Jt City of Glasgow Union & North British Joint Railway
D & A Jt Dundee & Arbroath Joint Railway
GNScot Great North of Scotland Railway
GSWR Glasgow and South Western Railway
HR Highland Railway
NB North British Railway
NB & Cal Jt North British & Caledonian Joint Railway
P & W Jt Portpatrick & Wigtonshire Joint Railway
SR Sutherland Railway

Irish Railway Company abbreviations
BHB Belfast,Holywood & Bangor
GNRI Great_Northern_Railway_(Ireland)
GS&W Great Southern & Western

Where two or more railway companies use the same station, but it is not known which
of them operated the Telegraph Office, their abbreviations are shown separated by an oblique stroke ('/').


Railway 355  Railway 535
Examples like these are helpful in identifying the company using a particular handstamp.


If you would like to send a message or picture, but
don't have a scanner and/or
you don't have email,
you can still contact me or use webcam on my
Comms. page.


Three of the English/Welsh numbers, 462, 820 and 857, are for Lloyd's Signal Stations, together with 2 of the Scottish, 147 and 149.
According to Modern-Wireless April 1923, "In 1908 the first Post Office station for commercial work was opened at Bolt Head for communication with ships,
and in the following year the other coast stations, which belonged to the Marconi Company and Lloyds, were taken over by the Department."

Lundy (857) and Kildonan on the Isle of Arran (149) had no physical railway station, just a submarine connection to the network.
I suspect that others, together with Porthcurno (1097) were handled a similar way. Porthcurno probably connected overland to Penzance.




Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.


Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.


Last updated 28th. February 2023

©Copyright Steve Panting 2012/13/14/15/16/17/18/19/20/21/22/23 except where stated.
Permission is hereby granted to copy material for which the copyright is owned by myself, on condition that any data is not altered and this website is given credit.


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