TPOs in Detail
TPOs in Detail
Royal Mail Travelling Post Office: The single typeface in fancy white script giving way to the older yellow lettering of the right. Not so well known is that most TPOs had a posting box for first class mail only, through which letters could be posted from the stations.

Photo: 80341 in the formation of 5C01 at Par on 25th September 2003 © Nigel Burkin 
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Logos and Liveries

The liveries of the Royal Mail trains reflect the changes in both corporate image and ownership of the businesses over the years...

From early days, TPOs were finished in a variant of the operating company's livery. Most particularly, Southern Railway's coaches were painted green. From the introduction of British Rail's Mark 1 coaches (circa 1951), TPOs were finished in varying shades of Post Office Red. From 1970 they adopted the (BR) corporate coach colours of blue/grey making them (slightly) less conspicuous to would-be *train robbers! In 1986, the 50th anniversary of the 'Night Mail' video, lead to a revised branding 'Royal Mail Letters' and re-introduction of the red paintwork. In 1990 the lettering was changed from yellow to white and a new Royal Mail cruciform was devised which remained until the end of the TPO services in 2004.

* The Great Train Robbery took placed on 7th August 1963.
Southern Railway Livery
Southern Railway TPO
Most particularly, Southern Railway's coaches were painted malachite green.

Photo: Southern Railway TPO coach 4920 at the Nene Valley Railway © Light Straw 2009.
British Rail Stock (1970 to 1986)
Royal Mail POS M80344
These coaches could be any rolling stock from the British Rail era, excepting the white lettering 'Royal Mail'.

Royal Mail TPO coaches adopted the standard blue/grey livery from 1970.

Photo: POS M80344 Stafford 28/04/87 © Steve Jones 2003
Royal Mail Letters (1986-1990)
Royal Mail Letters
This 1988 photo shows the double yellow lettering "Royal Mail Letters" in the then corporate style of the Post Office.

Photo: MK1 NSX 80367 POS Stafford 06/05/88 © Steve Jones 1999
Royal Mail (1986-1990)
E II R Royal Mail
E II R Royal Mail
Royal Mail (1990-2004)
Royal Mail
In 1990, the new 'Royal Mail' logo with crown on white background was introduced. Note that the double lined yellow lettering is retained. The E II R was omitted, possibly with a mind to future privatisation, thus having less association with the monarchy.

On TPO coaches, the additional marking in white single lined typeface was 'Royal Mail Travelling Post Office'

Royal Mail Travelling Post Office (1990-2004)
Royal Mail Travelling Post Office
This  photo shows newer white lettering and the full designation 'Royal Mail Travelling Post Office'.

Photo: 'Brian White' Royal Mail Travelling Post Office at the Nene Valley Railway © Light Straw 2009
Rail Express Systems (RES)
Rail Express Systems (RES)
Here we look at the Rail Express Systems (RES) and the Non-Passenger Carrying Coaching Stock (NPCCS) and Total Operations Processing System (TOPS).

Photo: NAA 94340 Plymouth 06/08/03 © Nigel Burkin 2003


See also Night Mail in the GPO Film Unit.

Book: The History of the TPO and the Post Office Railway by Peter Johnson (1995).

With thanks to Nigel Burkin, Steve Jones, Peter Johnson and the Nene Valley Railway.
Design, images and text compiled by © Light-Straw. Page last updated June 2015 revision.

 All logos and trade marks are the property of their respective owners and are used on the Light Straw site(s) for review only. Students and researchers are recommended to make their own independent enquiries as to the accuracy of the information contained therein.