Stamp name: Tarr Steps, River Barle

Value: First Class

Release date: 5 March 2015

About this stamp

The Tarr Steps bridge in Exmoor National Park is believed to have been built in the 15th or 16th century. Formed from large slabs of gritstone placed flat on low piers made from stone, the bridge is 55 metres long and is held together by weight without fixings or mortar.

The Bridges Special Stamps collection charts the leaps in engineering history that have seen Britain’s bridges develop from mere stone crossings to dramatic and iconic triumphs of architecture.

The collection references diverse styles of bridge engineering, from clapper and stone arch, to suspension and bowstring girder techniques. The featured bridges are arranged chronologically by date of construction, while all stamps are first class.

Each of the 10 photographic stamps features a bridge from across the UK designed by progressive architects and engineers, and constructed from a range of different materials such as gritstone, limestone, cast iron and steel.

Some of the most innovative structures crossing rivers, roads and valleys have been built in the UK: for example, the Humber Bridge was the world’s longest single-span suspension bridge from its opening in 1981 until 1997, with a central span of 1,410m.

Next: Fact file >

Design GBH
Stamp format Portrait
Stamp size 35mm x 37mm
Printer International Security Printers
Print process Lithography
Perforation 14.5 x 14 
Phosphor Bars as appropriate
Gum PVA 
Number per sheet 25/50

Row Bridge © Tony Mangan 2008; Craigellachie Bridge © David Gowans/Alamy; Humber Bridge © Al High 2009; all other photography by Hufton + Crow © Royal Mail Group Limited 2015

Next: Collectors' corner >

Presentation Pack
Taking its visual inspiration from architectural blueprints, the Presentation Pack charts the evolution of bridge building across the UK.

The unique timeline motif presented on the Special Stamps was designed to link up across the pack, telling the history of British bridges chronologically. It also creates a narrative for the accompanying text, written by architectural historian Dan Cruickshank.

In addition to exploring the history and development of the 10 featured bridges, the text includes biographies of engineers Thomas Telford and Robert Stephenson and gives an overview of the importance of bridges to civilisation.

First Day Cover
This Special Stamps collection was issued over two covers, with five stamps on each. The first cover showcases the Forth Rail Bridge, cancelled with a specially designed North Queensferry, Inverkeithing postmark.

The second features the Royal Border Bridge, cancelled with a specially designed Berwick Upon Tweed postmark.