by Gavin McGuffie, Catalogue Manager
At the start of each year here at the BPMA we go through the process of making a selected batch of Royal Mail Archive material available to the public for the first time. Broadly speaking these are files that reached the thirtieth anniversary of their closure the previous year, so for last year files which contain material dating up to and including 1978.
What this involves in practice is searching our database for any records whose ‘closed until’ date is 1st January 2009, printing this off, then going down to our repository to change any files that have physically been marked as ‘closed’ to ‘open’, and finally changing the status of the records on the online catalogue.
This year we’ve opened about 150 files and descriptions, particularly material from the following POST classes: POST 52 (Stamp Depot), POST 65 (Staff Associations), POST 69 (Royal Mail Board and its Predecessors) and POST 122 (Registered Files, Minuted and Decentralised Registry Papers).
POST 60/335, a report on attitudes to working in the Post Office in the London area, found that job security was the main reason for joining while the perception that the nature of the work permitted a fair degree of freedom was also attractive.
Among matters discussed in recently opened POST 69 Board minutes was the controversial Grunwick dispute in which postal workers in north-west London refused to deliver the mail of Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories during a period of industrial action over union recognition at the company.
If the recommendations of the Dacre review into Public Records are made law then the amount of material going through this process will increase for the next few years. Two years’ worth of records will be opened en masse every year for the next 15 years until the standard closure period for Public Records becomes 15 years.