50th Annual Postman’s Walk

This Saturday, staff from the BPMA participated in this year’s Postman’s Walk, the 50th annual walk since 1962.

The walk is open to postmen and women across the country, and 80 people participated including teams from York, Isle of Man, Edinburgh and London. It is a speed walking competition – strictly no running allowed, with officials around the circuit to ensure no cheating! The event is a very inclusive one, with all types of participants – from national and international standard athletes to the more novice, such as myself.

Some of the competitors get ready.

Some of the competitors get ready.

In the past, the route was around the City of London, the heart of the GPO but has now moved to a one mile circuit around Coram’s Fields.

All participants must wear uniform -previously postmen had to wear full uniform with no shorts, and carry a sack. As you may see from the photographs, these rules have been relaxed in more recent years. Not wanting to flout the uniform rules, myself and Andy Richmond from the BPMA wore historic styled postal uniforms from the handling collection. Whilst they made us very smart to look at, unfortunately they were not designed with exertion in mind, and did mean we got a little hot under the collar – and the brim – whilst attempting to keep up with the rest of the walkers. As a woman, I had a short walk of 3 miles, which I achieved in 40 minutes and 10 seconds. Andy however had a 6 mile circuit which took him 82 minutes. Compared to most other times achieved by the participants, ours look a little poor – although I am tempted to blame the three piece wool suit, top hat, and leather brogues for that!

Andy and Vyki on the walk.

Andy and Vyki on the walk.

It was a most enjoyable day, and we were delighted to participate and meet postal staff from around the country. Our uniform definitely caused a bit of interest, and we ended up posing for a lot of group photos. We also conducted some snap-shot collecting, collecting a 50th anniversary trophy for the collection, photographs of the event, and short oral history recordings. Together these add richness to our existing collections of sporting trophies, and will we hope prove of interest for future generations. We met a number of very interesting people who helped shape the social and sporting life of the GPO over the last few decades, and we plan to follow that up with more in-depth interviews in the future.

Some of the female competitors with Vyki.

Some of the female competitors with Vyki.

We had heard that this would be the last postman’s walk due to funding reductions, but were delighted to find out on the day that the 51st walk has now been planned for September next year. I hope to participate again next year, and improve my time – if not my attire.

Ray Middleton with Andy and Vyki.

Ray Middleton, winner of the 1st Postman's Walk, with Andy and Vyki.

See more photos from the event on Twitter.

- Vyki Sparkes, Assistant Curator

One response to “50th Annual Postman’s Walk

  1. My father EHW Barnes, took part in the Postman’s Walk in either 1968 or 69. He was working at the South West District Office (SWDO) in London at the time. Glad to read the Postman’s Walk is still running.
    Regards Mike Barnes

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