50 years of Special Stamps: Yorkshire’s finest views and people given stamp of approval

Over the past 50 years, Yorkshire’s most iconic views and personalities have been given the stamp of approval by Royal Mail - and Her Majesty the Queen.

The Humber Bridge is one of many iconic Yorkshire images to appear on Special Stamps

For she has personally approved every Special Stamp issued since they were introduced by postmaster general Tony Benn in 1965 - including three featuring York Minster issued in 2000, 2012, 2014; the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in 2004 and David Hockney’s painting of Salts Mill in Saltaire in 1999.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Special Stamps programme, Royal Mail has launched an online gallery featuring every one of the 2,663 special stamps issued, including many of the region’s most famous sites and people. Royal Mail’s Stamp Strategy Manager, Philip Parker, said the criteria for Special Stamps has remained “virtually unchanged” since it was introduced by Mr Benn. They must only be used to commemorate important anniversaries, events or successes, reflect the contribution of the UK to world affairs, explore the British way of life or explore UK culture.

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Mr Benn brought in new designers to radicalise the look of stamps, which until then had only featured monarchs - to much criticism

Salts Mill, Saltaire

Sir Winston Churchill featured on the first Special Stamp, which “set the scene for the future with its bold, modernist approach”, and led to 50 years of the country’s heritage represented in inch-squared miniatures.

York Minster most recently appeared on a stamp as part of an A to Z of the UK, and was picked due to its “beautiful” architecture, Mr Parker said. It can take three years to develop an issue, in which time, designers will visit the locations to ensure they have the best view possible for such a small space.

Other iconic Yorkshire places to get the Special Stamp treatment include The Deep in Hull, which was featured in a set themed on British contemporary architecture in 2006, alongside London’s Gherkin.

The Yorkshire people who have appeared on stamps were also worth noting, Mr Parker said, and include York born economist Barbara Ward, whose image appeared as part of a special set of stamps issued last year to mark people who were born in 1914.

York Minster

“There have also been many other notable Yorkshire people featured on stamps, including Harold Wilson, who appeared in a stamp issue on British Prime Ministers, and gold medallists in the 2012 Olympics Jessica Ennis-Hill, Nicola Adams and Alistair Brownlee,” Mr Parker said.

“One way or another, Yorkshire has been very well represented over the last 50 years on stamps.”

Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire coast
Tony Benn
BR Standard 4 2-6-4T. Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, Yorkshire