TPO -> Sierra Leone TPOs

Sierra Leone TPOs

By Keith Morris

Start and finish dates: September 1907 to unknown

This British built narrow gauge line (2'6'') was begun in 1893 but work was delayed by civil unrest. The first passenger trains ran on 18th March 1899 and gradually the system was extended and when the branch line reached Makeni in 1915 the railway could boast a running length of nearly 400 miles. Reduction in mileage commenced in 1964 with the closure of the Makeni branch and the final train ran in November 1974.

One of the main uses of the railway was to carry mail and the first handstamps were ordered in 1906. The first recorded use of this handstamp is on a cover dated September 1907. In all eight TPO vans were in use on the system. Mail was also carried on the 5 mile Mountain Railway to and from Hill Station.

Map of Sierra Leone Government Railway
C1950 map showing the extent of the Sierra Leone Government Railway
1927 map of Freetown
This 1927 map of Freetown shows the station at water Street. The platform on the right was for the main line whilst trains to the Hill Station departed from the other side of the track. The line to Hill Station curved into Charlotte Street (lower left). The other line on the left was to Government Wharf.
PPC of Water Street station in Freetown
This postcard shows the station at Water Street. The main line is in the distance whilst in the foreground is the line to Government Wharf. The line curving off to the right is the line to Hill Station.
Map of line from Freetown to Hill Station
The Hill Station line.
This c1925 map shows the 5 mile line from Freetown to Hill Station. No special handstamp was used on mail transported over this short branch line.
W.S. - Pendembu TPO cancel on cover
W.S. - Pendembu TPO (W.S. = Water Street (Station) Freetown)
Freetown - Makeni TPO cancels on Air Mail cover to England
Freetown - Makeni TPO
Freetown - BO TPO cancels on cover
Freetown - BO TPO

TPO carriage mail box in use The Sierra Leone Government railway had eight dedicated postal vehicles and received a substantial annual subsidy for their operation. This photograph was published in Philatelic Magazine in 1962 and shows EIIR below the letter box.


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