Terms & Abreviations found within
Railway Postmarks (GB & Ireland)

Here is a list of the most commonly seen terms and abreviations found within the railway postmarks of Great Britain and Ireland. Most entries refer to TPOs. Details for Great Britain (all) and Ireland (up to 1922) are listed first, then details for Ireland / the Irish Republic after 1922.

Great Britain and Ireland    (note – see lower down for Irish Republic)

•  AM (above the date of a TPO postmark): After Midnight (no full stops) on first day covers. British TPOs which started their run before midnight on any particular day used a handstamp with that day’s date on it. If the TPO run was continued after midnight, the same date stamp (viz. with the starting day’s date) was used for the full run. Thus, mail picked up further down the line after midnight was stamped with the previous day’s date. This enabled enthusiastic collectors to buy postage stamps at one of the ‘all day’ (24 hour) post offices in London just after midnight on their day of issue (i.e. very early in the day of issue), put them on first day covers, then drive to ‘down the line’ stations and post them into TPOs in the small hours of the morning; the postage stamp on the first day cover would then acquire a date stamp of the day before the official issue date for that stamp. In 1953 the Post Office (spoil sports that they were!) decided to close this loophole by issuing TPOs with an extra AM (After Midnight) handstamp to be used on first day covers! Such handstamps were much the same as the normal ‘operational’ handstamps, except that the date was set at the date of issue of the stamps(s), and the letters AM were placed just above the date.
•  B.T. (Bag Tender): a railway mail van devoted to the carriage of sealed bags of mail (such vans were equipped with date stamps which were not normally used on ordinary mail).
•  C.R. Caledonian Railway
•  D. (on early TPO postmarks): Down (q.v.)
•  D. (above the date of a TPO postmark C 1970s): Datapost
•  D. (above the date of East Anglian TPO 3 July 1967): Believed to be ‘Demonstration’
•  D.P.: Datapost
•  Down: Travelling away from the capital city (London or Dublin)
•  D.S.C.: District Sorting Carriage
•  E. (on TPO postmark other than Glasgow & Carlisle S.T.): Edinburgh Section
•  E. (on Glasgow & Carlisle S.T.): English Mail (?)
•  E.H. (or EH): Edinburgh Section
•  G. (on TPO postmark): Glasgow Section
•  G.W. (or GW): as for ‘G,’ also Great Western (Railway) as (e.g.) in triangular Inspectors’ marks
•  L. (on Glasgow & Carlisle S.T.): Limited Mail (q.v.)
•  Late Fee: Extra postage payable on mail posted directly into a travelling post office or into special posting boxes at railway stations, which were cleared into travelling post offices.
•  Limited Mail: Mail train with limited passenger accommodation
•  Perfin: Letters perforated in a stamp to discourage unauthorised usage. The letters are usually the initials of the Company using the stamp, e.g. ‘C.R.’ for Caledonian Railway.
•  R.S.C. (or RLY.S.C.): Railway Sorting Carriage
•  S.C.: Sorting Carriage
•  Side: When a travelling post office makes Up and Down journeys on alternate nights, two sets of vehicles are required. The two sets of vehicles are called ‘sides.’
•  Special: Train entirely devoted to the carriage and sorting of mail
•  ST.: Sorting Tender
•  R.P.O.: Railway Post Office
•  R.S.C.; Railway Sorting Carriage
•  R.S.O.: Railway Sub Office
•  T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office
•  U. : Up (as next)
•  Up: Travelling towards the capital city (London or Dublin)

Ireland (Republic)

(Note: Pronuntiation of most Irish words below can vary considerably from region to region within Ireland, and is usually not the same as you would expect in English pronuntiation. For examples, ANÍOS is pronounced ‘aneesh’, and STAISJUN is pronounced roughly as ‘store-shoon’.)
•  ANÍOS (or SUAS): Up
•  B.A.C. (Baile Atha Cliath): Dublin
•  C.S.: Sorting Carriage
•  LAE: Day
•  OICHE: Night
•  P.O.T. (POST OIFIG TAISTILL): Travelling Post Office
•  RAIL: Station
•  SÍOS: Down
•  STAISJUN: Station

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