Monthly Archives: October 2010

Bertram Mackennal podcast

New to our podcast is a recent talk given by our Curator of Philately Douglas Muir, on the stamps, medals and coins of Bertram Mackennal.

Bertram Mackennal was an Australian sculptor who, amongst other things, worked on all definitive stamps issued during the reign of King George V. Douglas Muir’s talk gives an in-depth insight into the design and production process for these issues, and also looks at Mackennal’s work on coins and medals.

The podcast is free to download from www.postalheritage.org.uk/podcast or iTunes

Douglas Muir’s book George V and the GPO: Stamps, Conflict and Creativity, can be purchased from our online shop.

Museum of the Post Office in the Community Receives Accreditation

by Chris Taft, Curator

The Museum of the Post Office in the Community, which is managed by The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA), has been awarded full Accreditation status. The Museum is situated on the Blists Hill Victorian Town site, at Ironbridge near Telford. This is a major achievement for the BPMA and one which all involved should feel justly proud of. The Museum is now an Accredited Museum, this is a reflection of the fact that the museum and its collections are cared for and the organisation governed to national standards set by the government agency for museums, the Museums Libraries and Archives council (MLA).

The Museum of the Post Office in the Community, Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge

The Museum of the Post Office in the Community, Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge

To become an Accredited Museum applicants must demonstrate good practice across a number of areas including access to the collections, visitor services, collections management and documentation, museum governance and good forward planning. The BPMA had to demonstrate it met these standards when applying to the scheme and the application was followed up by two site visits, one to Freeling House where the BPMA are based and one to the Museum at Blists Hill. The assessor looks closely at the management of the museum and ensures staff have a good awareness of best practice and use this when managing the collections. The application is then studied and considered by a panel made up of experience museum professionals. Ultimately the panel can award provisional status and recommend areas for improvement to allow full Accreditation to be achieved but for the BPMA the panel agreed that full Accreditation could be awarded. This is not something all museums can achieve.

For those that have been with us at the BPMA since the closure of the National Postal Museum this achievement comes on the back of something started back then. When the Museum closed it had provisional Registration status (Registration was the forerunner of Accreditation). This it held till earlier this year. Until the opening of the Museum of the Post office in the Community in October 2009 the BPMA were unable to demonstrate full achievement of the standard as it did not have the public facing museum. The Museum at Blists Hill answered this and it is through this site the Accreditation has been achieved.

The BPMA can use this achievement to help support funding applications and to show to potential sponsors that it can run an Accredited Museum.

Since its opening in October 2009 the Museum has proved very successful with over 100,000 visitors going through the door. Into 2011 the BPMA plans to capitalise on Accreditation and seek ways of running events in partnership with the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust who runs Blists Hill. The BPMA also plans to run some evaluation of the exhibition and seek ways to better promote the Museum.

Picture Post

The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) is proud to present Picture Post, an innovative community outreach project run in collaboration with Holborn Community Association, London, and Artsite Ltd, Swindon.

Family groups in both regions will work with artists and photographers to produce artistic responses to fascinating photographs from the BPMA collections.

During the 1930s-40s, the General Post Office (GPO) began using photography to support their newly established public relations activities. These promotional images were used in the Post Office magazine and on posters, travelling exhibitions and displays promoting the GPO.

Postman delivering mail to Kent hop farm, 1935 (POST 118/467)

Postman delivering mail to Kent hop farm, 1935 (POST 118/467)

The photographs show sorting clerks busy at work, fleets of motor vehicles, historic letter boxes, notable GPO buildings, engineers, travelling post offices and, of course, postmen and women delivering letters across Britain – from blitz-torn London to remote lighthouses.

In August 2010, the BPMA was one of four nationally important collections to benefit from the Designation Development Fund, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) council. The BPMA received £40,000 from the fund to improve conservation of the photographs, as well as access and understanding of its collections.

Picture Post was developed to increase access to the photography collection, and enable different groups to learn more about them, and postal history in general.

The London sessions are led by the BPMA in collaboration with staff and families from the Holborn Community Association and photographer Dan Salter. So far, these have involved using the museum handling collection of uniforms to recreate favourite photographs, and arts and crafts activities using photos for inspiration.

Choosing favourite photos

Choosing favourite photos

Charlie interpreting his favourite photo

Charlie interpreting his favourite photo

Rahim models postman's uniform

Rahim models postman's uniform

Dan setting up Charlie as Moses Nobbs the mail coach man

Dan setting up Charlie as Moses Nobbs the mail coach man

The artistic responses created by the families in the sessions will form part of a new travelling display, which will tour community spaces in London and Swindon during 2011.

Archive photos and images from the project can be viewed on Flickr

Painting of letter boxes during World War II

During World War II, the frequency of normal repainting of letter boxes, telephone kiosks, fire alarm posts etc was suspended. Each Head Postmaster was to decide what painting was necessary though they were expected to spend no more than a quarter of the normal, pre-war, amount on this.

Pillar box in Birkenhead painted with three white lines, 1938

Pillar box in Birkenhead painted with three white lines, 1938

A degree of over-enthusiasm was exhibited in Oxton, Birkenhead in 1938 when the local A.R.P. employed workmen to paint certain obstacles with white lines. The men painted a number of pillar boxes with three bands of white paint. It was reported that the “rapidly promoted sergeants of the sidewalk soon lost their military status” and the boxes were quickly restored to their normal peacetime colour scheme.

More official steps were soon taken to assist in the movement of vehicular traffic during ‘black-out’ conditions.  Local Authorities, acting on instructions from the Ministry of Home Security, applied bands of white paint or ‘other suitable distinguishing marks’ to trees, lamp posts, poles etc. bordering roads. The normal practice was for street objects to be painted with 6” white bands at 6” intervals to a height of 3’ from the ground. The decision on which objects required painting lay with the Local Authority and the Post Office gave authority for pillar boxes, police and fire alarm posts, telephone poles and telephone kiosks to also be painted with white paint if requested. However Local Authorities were advised that the Post Office preference was for just the plinths of pillar boxes to be painted white. If additional white paint was required, authority was given for the projecting rim of the cap to also be painted. Telephone kiosks types K2, K4 and K6 had bases painted white up to the bottom level of the glass panes. Kiosks K1 and K3 already featured stippled light paint and did not require further work. If local authorities pressed strongly for more extensive painting then this was permitted.

At first, Local Authorities were expected to pay for the white paint being applied, but from November 1944, instructions were issued that the Post Office would meet the cost of any white bands applied to Post Office property.

During the war the Post Office agreed with the Home Office that Local Authorities could, where they desired, paint the caps of pillar boxes with yellowish green, gas detector paint. It was thought that this would enable Air Raid Wardens to detect the presence of gas in the event of enemy raids. The Home Office issued instructions that this was not to be carried out until Local Authorities received notification ‘to complete Air Raid Precaution plans’. Regional Head Postmasters were informed by the Authority which boxes had been so painted. In response to tentative enquiry, in late 1944 the Post Office specifically stated that they were not considering the question of camouflage painting of letter boxes.

Sources:
BPMA  POST 78/311
BPMA POST 78/312
BPMA POST 78/313

BPMA POST 78/314
BPMA POST 56/23
, Post Office A.R.P. Manual VIII 13, 1940
Post Office Magazine November, 1938

Final two Festival of Stamps stamp shows

The last of the special London 2010: Festival of Stamps regional stamp shows are coming up…

Cornex 2010 – Cornwall Stamp Show, 23 October 2010

Organised by Cornwall Philatelic Federation

Free Admission

Venue:

Liskeard School and Community College
Luxstowe
Liskeard
Cornwall
PL14 3EA

Features:

  • Annual competition and fair
  • Dealers stands (18 dealers expected)
  • Competitive and non-competitive displays
  • Collections valued

 

Postal map of Bolton, 1824, from the Royal Mail Archive (POST 21/111)

Postal map of Bolton, 1824, from the Royal Mail Archive (POST 21/111)

 

North Western Stamp Show, 30 October, 10am-5pm

Organised by North-Western Philatelic Federation

Free Admission

Venue:

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic High School and Sports College
Chorley New Road
Horwich
BL6 6HW

Features:

  • Dealers stands (16 dealers expected)
  • Competitive and non-competitive displays
  • Open competition voted for by the public for the BPMA Award

Find out about other London 2010: Festival of Stamps events at www.london2010.org.uk

Cruchley’s Postal District Map, 1859

Each month we present an object from the Morten Collection on this blog. The Morten Collection is a nationally important postal history collection currently held at Bruce Castle, Tottenham.

As part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project, Pistols, Packets and Postmen, the BPMA, Bruce Castle Museum and the Communication Workers Union (the owner of the Collection) are working together to widen access to and develop educational resources for the Morten Collection.

This month, Bruce Robertson, a retired town planner from East London, who has been a volunteer working on the postal history collections at Bruce Castle Museum, chooses his favourite object:

Cruchley's Postal District Map, 1859

Cruchley's Postal District Map, 1859

“As a town planner interested in postal history, one of the postal maps was always going to be my favourite object.

Cruchley’s Postal District Map of 1859 was produced when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Rowland Hill’s postal reform, postage stamps, the Penny Black and universal Penny Postage – and District Post Offices – were all part of everyday life. The use of ‘the post’ had grown so much, and there used to be three or four deliveries a day. To aid the sorting of the mail, London had been divided into postal districts – the start of the post-code system we use today”.

Children’s Books – Winnie the Pooh

Since the 1950s European postal administrations have released stamps each year on a common theme; these are known as the Europa issues. This year members of PostEurop, the association of European public postal operators, are releasing stamps on the theme of Children’s Books. Royal Mail’s contribution is 10 stamps featuring characters from the Pooh stories by AA. Milne.

The stamps use E.H. Shepard’s book illustrations from the original Pooh stories, Winnie-the-Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner and the book of verse, Now we are Six.

Winnie-the-Pooh sheet stamps

Winnie-the-Pooh sheet stamps

Pooh and his friends Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo and Owl feature on the six sheet stamps, while the friendship between Pooh and Christopher Robin is the focus of the four 1st Class stamps in the Miniature Sheet.

Children's Books miniature sheet

Children's Books miniature sheet

Two First Day of Issue postmarks are available, which also make use of Shepard’s illustrations.

Winnie-the-Pooh first day of issue postmarksq

Winnie-the-Pooh first day of issue postmarks

The enduring popularity of the Pooh stories will no doubt make these stamps a best-seller, although keen fans may wish to track down The Year of the Child commemorative issue (1979) which featured illustrations from Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as well as Winnie-the-Pooh.

Year of the Child stamp issue, 1979

Year of the Child stamp issue, 1979

The Winnie the Pooh stamps are available online from the Royal Mail website.