'The Driver of the Mail', 1852.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil painting by Henry Alken showing an engine driver standing next to an early steam locomotive that is being used to carry mail. The expansion of the railway network led to the demise of the horse-drawn Royal Mail coach in the 1840s. Henry Alken was the son of Samuel Alken, an architect and engraver and was the most famous of the family of sporting painters. Many of his pictures were published in pairs or in series. Alken worked in a variety of media, including painting, etching and watercolours and was known for portraying hunting, coaching, racing and other animal subjects.