Job in a Million

Today’s episode of The Peoples Post focused on the life of postal workers in the 1930s. Included were extracts from the film Job in a Million, made in 1937 by the GPO Film Unit.

The paternalist air of Job in a Million seems patronising to us today, but it reflected the public service ethos of the time. As well as boys and men, girls, women and disabled people were all employed in large numbers by the Post Office, particularly during and after the First and Second World Wars.

At the start of the First World War the Post Office was once of the largest employers in the world (employing 249,606 people), and in 1934 it was the second largest employer in Britain (employing 227,882 people). Even today Royal Mail Group employs 185,602 people, putting it amongst the UK’s largest employers.

With this history it unsurprising that the majority of the UK population have either worked for or have an ancestor who worked for the Post Office or Royal Mail. Here at the BPMA we receive enquiries every day from family historians wanting information on the working lives of their ancestors. Find out how we can help with your search at www.postalheritage.org.uk/genealogy, or for information on working lives in the Post Office see www.postalheritage.org.uk/history.

- Alison Bean, Web Officer

For more on today’s episode of The Peoples Post see our webpage A Job in a Million. Further images can be found on Flickr. Use the Twitter hashtag #PeoplesPost to comment on the show.

One response to “Job in a Million

  1. Mike Whitehead

    My father was a disabled WW1 ex-serviceman who joined the Post Office as a Town Postman in Newark on his 30th birthday 18 Oct 1919. He had lost his right arm just below the elbow and had a sprung contraption to hold the letters which fitted into his artificial arm. He retired, still as a postman, on his 60th birthday. I have two photographs of him in uniform, one taken in the 30s, I think, with a shako style hat and one, I guess, in the 40s, with a peaked hat He is the only one armed postman I have ever come across. Considering the lack of jobs after WW1, full marks to the civil service for looking after disabled ex-servicemen.

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