Continuing the recent lantern slide theme on our blog, I thought I would share one of my favourite slides we have in our collection relating to the London Postal Service School (LPS).
This is one of my favourite slides from this group partly for the atmosphere of the picture, not to mention the man in the bowler hat who seems to have been momentarily distracted from his duty. One of the more surprising elements perhaps is the use of a ‘creeper’ – a series of rollers – for transporting mail, now more commonly associated with airport security, but which is likely to have been a very ‘modern’ method of transport at the time.
If this image looks familiar, it may be because many of these slides also appear as photographs in the Royal Mail Archive. Lantern slides were used extensively by the Post Office during the 19th and 20th Centuries, for a variety of purposes including staff training. It is likely that many of the images were used as lantern slides as a means of instructing new recruits.
The training schools were established to train staff in Post Office procedures and to ensure standardisation of service. The first was the London Postal Service Counter School in Roman Bath Street, London for the training of counter clerks and telegraphists, with other departments later opening schools with specific areas of training.
The emphasis in the schools was on practical training and classrooms were equipped to resemble real-life post office counters. Students took part in role-play were provided with copies of example documents, which were also displayed around the room.
I am particularly fond of the London Postal Service School slides as they convey not only the scale of the Post Office operations, but give a sense of the people behind the post – many of whom can be seen enjoying a well earned tea break in the picture below!
More of these slides will soon be available on our online catalogue.
Sarah Jenkins – Assistant Cataloguer