Railway Tickets break down into two main types, travel tickets and platform tickets. Initially, railway companies used handwritten tickets, as was the practice for stagecoaches, but it was laborious for a ticket clerk to write out a ticket for each passenger and long queues were common at busy stations. A faster means of issuing pre-printed tickets was needed. There was also a need to provide accountability by serial-numbering each ticket to prevent unscrupulous clerks from pocketing the fares, since they had to reconcile the takings against the serial numbers of the unsold tickets at the end of each day. Thomas Edmondson, a trained cabinet maker, who became a station master on the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway in England. He introduced his system on the Manchester and Leeds Railway. The Edmondson system came into general use with the creation of the Railway Clearing House in 1842, becoming the essential standard feature. The Edmondson railway ticket was a system for recording the payment of railway fares and accounting for the revenue raised, introduced in the 1840s.
The whole system, from printing, bulk storage, ticket racks, dating and issue, was based on the measurement of the tickets which were printed on card cut to 1 3/16 inch by 2 1/4 inch , with a nominal thickness of 1/32 inch. The traditional material was pasteboard, pre-cut to the size with the centre layer of the sandwich was a cheap board with thin white or coloured paper laminated to it. The tickets in each series were individually numbered. When a ticket was issued, it was date-stamped by a custom-made machine which was bolted to the ticket office counter. The tickets to different destinations and of different types were stored in a lockable cupboard where the lowest remaining number of each issue was visible. Different colours and patterns helped distinguish the different types of tickets. British Railway’s centralised paper and printing centre at Crewe had a number of pre-1900 Waterlow printing presses which met its annual demand for 320 million tickets. The last press was switched off in 1988 and the use of Edmondson tickets by British Rail ceased in February 1990.
Vertical-format Edmondson card-size tickets were the final manifestation of the Edmondson in the UK. The NCR21 system was used at Southern Region station booking offices from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, until supplanted by the early generation of computerised systems including INTIS and APTIS. Vertical-format Edmonson tickets were validated in NCR21 cash registers—this is the machine printed date/fare/machine number on the ticket front. The Edmondson system is still in use on many heritage railways in the UK, but has been superseded on other railway systems. The Severn Valley railway, the West Somerset Railway, the Bluebell Railway, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and the Swanage Railway print Edmondson tickets for their own use as well as for a number of other heritage lines. In Sussex the Bluebell Railway has a number of Edmondson printing machines that are to be placed on display in a specially-built museum at the front of Sheffield Park station. There are several small companies that still produce Edmondson tickets on request.