Monthly Archives: March 2011

Help us test our new website

We are building a new website and are looking for volunteers to help us test it. All volunteer testers will go into the draw to win a voucher from Amazon worth £50. You can participate in the testing programme by either attending a Group Session or by becoming a Virtual Tester.

Group Sessions

Participants in these sessions will be asked to use a draft version of the new BPMA website and complete a number of tasks.

We will be holding two group sessions, with dates and venues as follows:

2-4pm, Monday 4 April in Clerkenwell, Central London
10.30am-12.30pm, Saturday 9 April in Brixton, South London

We are happy to cover your travel expenses to attend a session if you are travelling from within London or the South East of England. Light refreshments will be supplied at the sessions.

If you would like to volunteer to attend either of these sessions please e-mail blog@postalheritage.org.uk.

Virtual Testing

The virtual testing programme will involve participants accessing a draft version of our new website on their computer and completing an online survey. This should take about 20 minutes and participants will be able to complete this at any point between Monday 28 March and Friday 15 April.

If you would like to volunteer to be a virtual tester please e-mail blog@postalheritage.org.uk.

More cigarette card images

by Emma Harper, Cataloguer (Collections)

Sydney (New South Wales) Postman, City Uniform

Sydney (New South Wales) Postman, City Uniform

Images of cigarette cards from the Wilkinson Collection will soon be added to our online catalogue so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some more of the cards with you beforehand.

Many of the cigarette cards examine aspects of postal systems in countries across what was then the British Empire. They look at the uniform worn by postal workers, the different buildings that functioned as post offices and how the systems coped with extreme weather conditions. Four cards from a set produced by Royal Mail in conjunction with Wills in c.1930 illustrate this point well by showing the workings of the Australian Post Office.

This first card (2010-0383/14) shows the fetching uniform worn by city postmen in Sydney, New South Wales which is where the first Australian post office was established in 1810. The distinctive red jacket and the white helmet are both different from the uniform of London postmen at the time, harking back to an older military style of dress.

In contrast to this, 2010-0383/06 shows a Post Office established in a new gold town in Australia. Quite different from the impression given by the formal attire of the City postman, this post office seems quite understated amongst the tents. However, it shows how important the Post Office was, that

even the most adventurous cling to home and civilization through this visible link, the Post Office.

Post Office at Gold Diggings, Australia

Post Office at Gold Diggings, Australia

The other two cards are representative of the nature of the terrain and weather experienced by Australia and how, inevitably, this affected the transportation of mails across the country. In the 19th century, most people relied upon the mail coach for intercommunication: as the third card, 2010-0383/04 depicts, it was able to cover great stretches of the country in a relatively short amount of time.

Mail Coach - Western Australia

Mail Coach - Western Australia

As has been the case recently, Australia can also be subject to some extreme weather conditions. 2010-0383/05 displays this, showing a postman delivering mail to Kiandra in New South Wales, a mountainous district and, incidentally, an old gold mining town. The postman, fully equipped with his skis, trudges through the snow with the mail slung over his shoulder; as is printed on the card

In no other business could the work be done so expeditiously.

Carrying Mails to Kiandra, New South Wales

Carrying Mails to Kiandra, New South Wales

All the cards mentioned, and many more, will soon be on our online catalogue.