02 May 2019
From catalytic converters to the Crossrail tunnels, from engineering superstructures to microchips, projects created by British engineers have literally changed the world. British Engineering is Royal Mail’s celebration of the projects and creations of the past fifty years in the fields of electronic engineering, chemical engineering and biomedical.
Some of the innovations featured have won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious MacRobert Award, the UK’s longest-running award for engineering innovation, celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year.
The six projects chosen for the stamps represent the fields of engineering in computers, transport and health and all have been developed within the past fifty years. We begin with the Raspberry Pi (1st class value), a credit-card sized microcomputer introduced in 2012 that has sold over 20 million units and revolutionised how computer science and programme are taught around the world. The stamp shows a close-up of a 2017 version of the Raspberry Pi.
From Wales to Scotland, we move to the Falkirk Wheel for the second 1stclass value. This engineering marvel is the world’s first and only rotating boat lift and reconnected two canals (Forth & Clyde and Union) for the first time in seventy years. Boats pass through a pair of locks after being raised 24 metres to reach from Union Canal from the Forth & Clyde.
The transport theme continues with stamp three, a £1.55 value featuring the three-way catalytic converter, a development that scrubs car exhausts of their harmful gases and has helped to improve air quality in areas of high traffic volume. The Johnson Matthey Group was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award for the project in 1980.
The second £1.55 stamp features Crossrail, a tunnelling project first proposed to Parliament in 1941 and finally brought to fruition following the 2008 Crossrail Act. As shown on the stamp, Crossrail has so far created 26 miles of new rail tunnels under London, crossing London from Berkshire and Buckinghamshire in the west through to Essex in the east. When completed, up to 24 trains an hour will run in each direction, reducing pressure on passenger numbers on the London Underground.
We move to a tunnel of a different kind for stamp five, a £1.55 value showing a patient inside an MRI scanner. In a hospital setting, MRI scanners would not be possible without the work carried out by British engineers at Oxford Instruments on superconducting magnets; a project that was awarded the MacRobert Prize in 1986.
Finally, we see a close-up of a bone-graft (£1.55), which uses engineered materials to encourage growth and is used in complex orthopaedic surgeries, improving outcomes for hundreds of thousands of patients around the world. The bone-graft was developed by Dr Karin Hing, currently a senior lecturer in Biomaterials within the School of Engineering and Materials at Queen Mary University of London. Dr Hing was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Silver Medal in 2011 for her work.
Issue date: 2 May 2019
Design: Common Curiosity
Illustrations: Martin Woodward
Printer: International Security Printers
Print process: Lithography
Perforations: 14.5 x 14
Stamp size: 35mm x 37mm
Phosphor: Bars as appropriate
1st Falkirk Wheel rotating boat lift
1st Raspberry Pi microcomputer
£1.55 Three-way catalytic converter
£1.60 Superconducting magnet
£1.60 Synthetic bone-graft