Monthly Archives: February 2013

Postmasters General

The head of the Post Office has been known by many different titles, but from 1657 to 1969 the holder of this position was called the Postmaster General. Postmasters General were Cabinet-level ministers, selected by the Prime Minister from amongst the members of Parliament or the House of Lords.

One notable Postmaster General was Henry Fawcett, Member of Parliament for Hackney under Prime Minister William Gladstone. Although only Postmaster General for four and half years (1880-1884), Fawcett was responsible for introducing the Post Office Savings Bank savings stamp, the Parcel Post, postal orders and the sixpenny telegram, amongst other things. A Liberal, Fawcett was also Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University, an early supporter of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, a campaigner for women’s suffrage, and the husband of suffragist and political activist Millicent Garrett Fawcett. In 2009 Philip Jeffs of the Royal National Institute of the Blind blogged for us on Fawcett’s disability; having been blinded in a shooting accident at the age of 25 Fawcett reportedly told his father: “Well, it shan’t make any difference in my plans of life!”

Henry Fawcett, Postmaster General 1880-1884. (2012/0129-02)

Henry Fawcett, Postmaster General 1880-1884. (2012/0129-02)

Other famous Postmasters General include Neville Chamberlain, Postmaster General 1922-1923 and Prime Minister 1937-1940, Clement Attlee, Postmaster General 1931 and Prime Minister 1945-1951, and Tony Benn, who was Postmaster General from 1964-1966 and later held a number of other cabinet positions including Minister of Posts and Telecommunications in 1974. Tony Benn’s tenure as Postmaster General is remembered as being a time of change, when the portrait of the monarch was removed from stamps in favour of the cameo head.

Tony Benn, Postmaster General 1964-1966. (P9183)

Tony Benn, Postmaster General 1964-1966. (P9183)

In 1969 the Post Office became a Corporation headed by a Chairman, and government responsibility for the organisation came under the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. When that ministerial position was abolished in 1974 postal services came under the Department of Industry. Today Royal Mail Group is overseen by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, and headed by Chairman Donald Brydon and Chief Executive Moya Greene.

For a complete list Postmasters General and the holders of other senior positions see our webpage on Leadership of the Post Office. Photographs of a number of Postmasters General and Assistant Postmasters General can be viewed on Flickr. For more on 20th Century Postmaster General see Adrian Steel’s blog post The Office of Postmaster General: Its holders in the Twentieth Century.

Post & Go Freshwater Life – Ponds

Royal Mail’s first Post & Go Stamps for 2013 are a series on wildlife found in the habitat of UK ponds, available on a series of six stamps from today. The Ponds Post & Go stamps feature three species familiar and widespread in the UK and three which are endangered and protected by law.

Post & Go Freshwater Life – Ponds stamps.

Post & Go Freshwater Life – Ponds stamps.

Lesser Silver Water Beetle

Lesser Silver Water Beetle stamp.

Lesser Silver Water Beetle stamp.

About 15cm long the lesser silver water beetle, Hydrochara caraboides, is a species of water scavenger beetle. Although the beetle is actually black, hairs on the underside of its body trap a silvery looking air bubble that enables the beetle to breathe underwater, giving the beetle its name. Eggs are laid in spring or early summer, and the larvae are often found from May to July, floating just below the surface. Adults are herbivores and feed on decaying plant matter, but the larvae are carnivores, and feed on water snails.

In the UK it is found only in the Somerset Levels, Cheshire and north-east Wales. It is classified as an endangered species protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Three-Spined Stickleback

Three-Spined Stickleback stamp.

Three-Spined Stickleback stamp.

The three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, is larger of our two sticklebacks. It is usually 5cm long (but may reach, exceptionally, twice that length). In front of the dorsal fin there are the three spines that give the fish its name (though some individuals may have 2 or 4). The stickleback can live in fresh, brackish or salt water and is found in ditches, ponds, lakes, backwaters, quiet rivers, sheltered bays, marshes, and harbours.

Smooth Newt

Smooth Newt stamp.

Smooth Newt stamp.

Also known as the Common Newt, Lissotriton vulgaris is found throughout Europe except the far north, areas of Southern France, and the Iberian peninsula. Females and non-breeding males are pale brown or olive green, often with two darker stripes on the back. Both sexes have an orange belly, although in females it is paler. This is covered in rounded black spots. They have a pale throat with conspicuous spots. During the breeding season, males develop a continuous wavy crest that runs from their head to their tail, and their spotted markings become more apparent. They are also distinguishable from females by their fringed toes.

Like other amphibians their eggs are laid in the water and hatch into tadpoles, which eventually develop into air breathing adults

Fairy Shrimp

Fairy Shrimp stamp.

Fairy Shrimp stamp.

The fairy shrimp Chirocephalus diaphanous, is a beautiful, translucent crustacean, which lacks a carapace. It has a relatively large number of segments and bears 11 pairs of legs fringed with bristles; the head curves downwards, and in males the second pair of antennae are modified ‘claspers’ for grabbing females during mating. Fairy shrimps swim around on their backs, propelled by the constantly moving legs.

They hatch during the cooler parts of the year, as water returns to their shallow ponds, which dried out during the summer. They reach maturity over winter, then lay eggs, which can survive long periods of drought and then die when their ponds dry out in spring. It is found in no more than 100 ponds in the whole of the UK.

Fairy shrimps are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act and can be found in Hampshire’s New Forest, on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, on Salisbury Plain, in parts of the Sussex Weald, as well as in Oxfordshire, East Anglia and South Wales.

Emperor Dragonfly

Emperor Dragonfly stamp.

Emperor Dragonfly stamp.

The Emperor Dragonfly, Anax imperator, is a large and powerful species of hawker dragonfly averaging 78 millimetres in length. It is found in Europe, Africa and Asia. Males have a sky blue abdomen with a black dorsal stripe and an apple green thorax. Females have a green thorax and abdomen. The species lives by ponds, gravel pits, and slow rivers, where they feed on other insects and tadpoles.

Eggs are laid on pondweed and the larvae develop underwater as ferocious predators feeding on invertebrates, tadpoles and even small fish.

Glutinous Snail

Glutinous Snail stamp.

Glutinous Snail stamp.

The glutinous snail, Myxas glutinosa is a small air-breathing freshwater snail. This snail is unusual in that it extends its almost transparent mantle to completely cover the shell when moving, giving the animal a glass-like appearance. It also makes the animal sticky to the touch, hence its common name. It is only found in very clear, clean ponds, lakes and canals.

This species has undergone a big decline, and while it was once found throughout the UK it is now known from only one site in Wales. As a result it is classified as Endangered in the UK and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The reasons for its decline are almost certainly due to water pollution particularly from nutrient enrichment.

Ponds is the first of three Post & Go sets to be issued in 2013 – all on the subject of the UK’s freshwater life. As with all previous Post & Go stamps to date, Royal Mail commissioned Kate Stephens to produce the designs. These were illustrated by lino-cut artist Chris Wormell. The national charity Pond Conservation has advised on all the stamp sets. The charity works in all freshwater environments and runs the successful annual Big Pond Dip, where the public is invited to monitor local ponds for life.

The Ponds Post & Go stamps will be available from Post & Go terminals in 146 Post Office branches. The initial design used for the self-adhesive stamps, which are overprinted with the postage on demand, featured the profile of Her Majesty the Queen created by Arnold Machin and used on UK definitive stamps. Pictorial versions of these new kinds of stamps were introduced with Birds of Britain in 2010 and 2011 followed by British Farm Animals in 2012.

Post & Go terminals allow customers to weigh their letters and packets, pay for and print postage stamps and labels without the need to visit the counter. The first Post & Go machine was trialled in The Galleries Post Office in Bristol in 2008. Since 2008 over 220 terminals have been installed in 146 branches. BPMA has a Post & Go machine located in the foyer of the Royal Mail Archive which is currently offering the Union Flag and gold Machin designs.

Jane Austen on stamps

The work of Jane Austen, the author behind timeless works such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma, is celebrated on a new set of stamps issued by Royal Mail today. The stamp issue coincides with the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice.

Jane Austen stamps, issued 21 February 2013. 1st Class – Sense and Sensibility, 1st Class – Pride and Prejudice, 77p – Mansfield Park, 77p – Emma, £1.28 – Northanger Abbey, £1.28 – Persuasion.

Jane Austen stamps, issued 21 February 2013. 1st Class – Sense and Sensibility, 1st Class – Pride and Prejudice, 77p – Mansfield Park, 77p – Emma, £1.28 – Northanger Abbey, £1.28 – Persuasion.

Designers Webb & Webb were commissioned by Royal Mail to devise the Jane Austen stamps with the six chosen novels brought to life via original and newly commissioned Angela Barrett illustrations.

These are not the first Royal Mail stamps to commemorate Jane Austen, a set of four stamps was issued in 1975 to mark the author’s birth bicentenary.

Birth Bicentenary of Jane Austen stamps, issued 22 October 1975. 7p - Emma & Mr Woodhouse (Emma), 8p - Catherine Morland (Northanger Abbey), 10p - Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), 12p - Mary and Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park).

Birth Bicentenary of Jane Austen stamps, issued 22 October 1975. 7p – Emma & Mr Woodhouse (Emma), 8p – Catherine Morland (Northanger Abbey), 10p – Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), 12p – Mary and Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park).

The BPMA holds the original artwork and designs for the 1975 stamps in the Royal Mail Archive, and facsimiles of some of these can be seen at our stall at Stampex.

Designs by Barbara Brown shown to the Stamp Advisory Committee on 5 June 1975. Three designs were approved, subject to clarification of the captions. A decision was deferred relating to the design showing Emma and Mr Woodhouse. (QEII-117-21)

Designs by Barbara Brown shown to the Stamp Advisory Committee on 5 June 1975. Three designs were approved, subject to clarification of the captions. A decision was deferred relating to the design showing Emma and Mr Woodhouse. (QEII-117-21)

Stamps and stamp products are available at most Post Office branches, online at www.royalmail.com/janeausten and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

Union Flag design soon available from our Post & Go machine

From tomorrow a new design will be available from the Post & Go machine situated in the foyer of the Royal Mail Archive: the Union Flag.

Union Flag Post & Go stamp from our machine.

Union Flag Post & Go stamp from our machine.

The Union Flag design replaces the Christmas Robin design which has been available since the machine was launched on 3 December 2012. The gold Machin design is still available from the machine, which produces self-adhesive stamps on demand with a special overprint reading “The B.P.M.A.”.

Union flag stamps from our Post & Go machine.

Union flag stamps from our Post & Go machine.

Two different stamp designs are available from our Post & Go machine at any one time, and the designs are changed 3-4 times a year. The machine takes payment by credit and debit cards, and is only available to visitors to the Royal Mail Archive in Clerkenwell.

A limited number of an official first day cover featuring the Union Flag will be available from the BPMA online shop – Philatelic from 25 February 2013.

Visit our Post & Go webpage for more information.

Spring Stampex 2013

On Wednesday 20th February 2013, the British National Stamp Exhibition Stampex will open its doors again to the philatelic community and anyone interested in stamps, postal history and other related items. The Friends of the BPMA will be there again at stand no. 55, near the Royal Mail stand, to talk about upcoming events and activities, and offer a great selection of products from the BPMA Shop.

Stalls at Stampex, 2010

Stalls at Stampex

Stampex takes place at the Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0QH from Wednesday 20th to Saturday 23rd February 2013, and will be open as follows:

Wednesday - 11.30am–7.00pm
Thursday & Friday - 10.00am–6.00pm
Saturday - 10.00am–5.00pm

Admission is free – so come along to visit the Friends of the BPMA who will have more information on the BPMA’s fundraising plans towards our new museum and archive.

New Postal Museum & Archive, Calthorpe House, London.

New Postal Museum & Archive, Calthorpe House, London.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to buy tickets for the talk by stamp enthusiast Chris West on A History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps which will take place on Thursday evening, 21st February 2013, at 7pm at the Phoenix Centre, next door to the Royal Mail Archive in Clerkenwell, only 20 minutes walk from the Business Design Centre.

There will be plenty of material on display showcasing items from our collections such as a replica of a large-size green Victorian Penfold pillar box, advertising the upcoming Pillar Box Perfection open day at our Museum Store in Debden, Essex on 6th April 2013.

Pillar boxes at the Museum Store.

Pillar boxes at the Museum Store.

We will be showing a selection of images of the Post Office Underground railway (Mail Rail) – a fascinating part of London’s postal heritage and ‘secret underground’ – as well as visuals of Post Office Magazine covers, which feature in our touring exhibition The Post Office in Pictures.

Post Office Underground Railway - train in tunnel. (POST 118/382)

Post Office Underground Railway – train in tunnel. (POST 118/382)

As Royal Mail will be launching a set of Jane Austen stamps celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, we will also display images of the stamp issues to celebrate the Bicentenary of Jane Austen’s birth in 1975. As part of our Stamp Artwork Project, which has been generously funded by the Aurelius Charitable Trust, the Leche Trust and The Charles Hayward Foundation, these stamps and more artwork from 1975-1985 have been digitised and provided with fully researched stamp histories and catalogue entries in order to enable public access to the BPMA’s extensive collection of British stamps. They will be added to our online catalogue in April.

Finally, there will be special offers on BPMA philatelic products and the latest newcomers to the BPMA product range such as the Telegram Messenger postcard set and Chris West’s book First Class – A History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps.

New telegram messenger postcard set.

New telegram messenger postcard set.

Valentines Greetings Telegrams

At this time of the year the postal service is kept busy delivering love letters and cards on Valentine’s Day, but in the 20th Century cards and letters weren’t the only ways to send a romantic message. In 1936 the General Post Office introduced the Valentine’s Day greetings telegram, which enabled people to send a 9 word message for just 9d. This was 3d more expensive than sending a standard telegram, but it meant that the message would arrive on a specially-designed form.

Valentine's greetings telegram, issued 14th February 1936, designed by Rex Whistler.

Valentine’s greetings telegram, issued 14th February 1936, designed by Rex Whistler.

Greetings telegrams were introduced in Denmark in 1907, and in Sweden in 1912. By the time Britain introduced them in 1935 most of Europe, the USA and many other countries had such a service. Between 1935 and the cessation of the service in 1982 a variety of greetings telegrams forms had been issued, enabling customers to send greetings for weddings, birthdays, coming of ages, Christmas and the Coronation, as well as Valentine’s Day.

The 1936 Valentine’s Day greetings telegram was seen as an experiment by the GPO, and it was the first telegram form to be printed in multiple colours. 50,000 Valentines telegrams were sent in 1936, which provided a much-need boost to the telegram service at a time when it was facing stiff competition from the telephone service.

During the Second World War the greetings telegram service was downscaled, and an “all in one” telegram form was introduced in 1942. It was less elaborate and colourful (to save on ink and paper during wartime shortages), and was carefully designed to be appropriate for many occasions. The design shows a village scene: a young couple have just been married in the church, an older couple are sitting on a bench together (perhaps having a low-key wedding anniversary celebration, or consoling each other after a loss), and a stork is delivering a baby to another couple.

War economy greetings telegram, issued 20th June 1942, designed by Kathleen Atkins.

War economy greetings telegram, issued 20th June 1942, designed by Kathleen Atkins.

Valentine’s Day greetings telegrams returned in 1951, with new forms issued in both 1952 and 1953. Thereafter it became common to re-issue greetings telegram designs from previous years. Rosemary Kay designed the last new Valentine’s Day greetings telegram form in 1961.

Valentine's Day greetings telegram, issued 14 February 1961, designed by Rosemary Kay.

Valentine’s Day greetings telegram, issued 14 February 1961, designed by Rosemary Kay.

- Alison Bean, Web Officer

Visit us on Flickr to see a selection of Valentine’s Day greetings telegram forms and Valentine’s Day greetings telegram form artwork.

Bibliography:

New Acquisition: Sir Francis Freeling’s Certifying Seal

When an object is offered to the museum, there are certain things that are considered before it is formally accepted into the collection and accessioned. Is the object in good condition? Often materials can degrade not only causing damage to the object in question but sometimes threatening the condition of items already in the collection. BPMA already has a large collection and we try not to duplicate items too much. Sometimes having more than one of an object can be an advantage as it means we can display objects for longer, or still allow access for research whilst an original is on display. However, we must be careful to have a balanced collection that represents a wide breadth of stories. This brings me on to the final and perhaps most important thing to consider, does the object meet our Collecting Policy? In other words does it have a postal connection in the story it can tell and how it can enrich our knowledge and understanding of communication, past and present.

Recently we were offered an item that was in good condition, was not already represented in the collection and certainly has an interesting story to tell. This object was a Certifying Seal used by Sir Francis Freeling during his time as Secretary of the General Post Office. Sir Francis Freeling was Secretary of the Post Office from 1797 to 1836 and was one of the longest serving administrators of the Post Office in the 19th Century. Amongst other things, Freeling helped establish a system for recording minutes and reports, which forms the foundation on which today’s Royal Mail Archive is built.

Sir Francis Freeling’s Certifying Seal

Sir Francis Freeling’s Certifying Seal

This seal would have been used by Freeling to seal official correspondence. The main seal is made of a red ochre coloured material, possibly a sort of stone, whilst the handle has an embossed floral design. In the centre of the impression is the Royal coat of arms with a crown at the top. In three scrolls across the bottom of the coat of arms is inscribed ‘GENL. POST OFFICE’ and across the bottom appears the word ‘SECRETARY’.

Sir Francis Freeling’s Certifying Seal

Sir Francis Freeling’s Certifying Seal

Another thing to consider when an object enters the collection is its provenance: where it came from, who owned it. This certifying seal was kindly donated to the BPMA from the Talbot family who are connected to the Freeling family through the marriage of Charles Henry Waring and Lucy Freeling, the latter was the grand-daughter of Sir Francis Freeling. This kind of personal connection adds a personal touch to the story of the object.

Sir Francis Freeling was an important character in the history of the Post Office, it is for this reason that our current home, Freeling House, is named after him and we are therefore especially pleased to accept this item into the collection.

Emma Harper – Curator (Move Planning)

View items from the Royal Mail Archive and British Postal Museum collection in the Collections & Catalogue section of our website.

Year of the Snake stamps

To mark the start of the Year of the Snake, Royal Mail has issued a limited-edition stamp sheet featuring celebrations by Chinese communities around the UK alongside intricate designs representing all five elemental snake types.

Year of the Snake stamp sheet.

Year of the Snake stamp sheet.

The striking and multi-faceted sheet comprises 20 fireworks Smilers stamps alongside images of five UK Chinatowns. These are joined by the elemental snake types – Metal, Earth, Fire, Wood and Water – as well as images reflecting the aspirations of Hope, Heritage, Success, Togetherness and Good Fortune.

Elemental snake types stamps - Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.

Elemental snake types stamps – Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.

Good Fortune, Togetherness, Success, Heritage and Hope stamps.

Good Fortune, Togetherness, Success, Heritage and Hope stamps.

Stamps representing the Chinatowns in Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester are adorned with traditional Chinese dragons, with London and Cardiff the other cities featured. The sheet also features four large illustrations of red and orange snakes winding their way around the outside of the sheet.

Chinatowns stamps - London, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester.

Chinatowns stamps – London, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester.

The stamps follow on from the huge success of Royal Mail’s first ‘Lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon’ sheet from 2012.

London boasts one of the oldest Chinese communities in the UK with records showing some of the earliest settlers in Bow, east London.

Today there are significant Chinese communities in cities all across the country, most notably; London; Manchester; Birmingham; Liverpool; Sheffield and Edinburgh – with most featuring a Chinatown – an area rich in Chinese culture and business. The original Chinatown was situated in Liverpool – however this was destroyed during the Second World War.

A Statistical Bulletin published in May 2011 for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated the Chinese population in the UK as 451,500.

Cantonese is the predominant language spoken by Chinese living in the UK, followed by Mandarin Chinese and Hakka Chinese.

The Lunar New Year Commemorative Sheet is available in 350 local Post Offices across the UK, online at www.royalmail.com/snake and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

For Chinese customers, the sheets can be purchased from Emily Lee at Stanley Gibbons on elee@stanleygibbons.com or from Stanley Gibbons (Asia) Ltd.,10/F Central Building, 1-3 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong.

See Year of the Snake stamps from around the world on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board.

First Class: A History of Britain Told Through 36 Postage Stamps

On Thursday 21 February Chris West, author of First Class – a History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps, will give a talk at the BPMA in London. Chris’s book explores British history as illustrated by our most expressive, quirky, beautiful and sometimes baffling stamps.

Chris West

Chris West

Drawing on his book, Chris will tell the story of how the Penny Lilac united a nation in 1881 and examine the controversy surrounding the Edward VIII stamp of 1936. More recent history such as the punk era and the Prime Ministership of Margaret Thatcher will also be explored.

First Class: A history of Britain in 36 postage stamps by Chris West (cover)

Tickets to the talk First Class: A History of Britain Told Through 36 Postage Stamps can be purchased through our website at the cost of £3 per head, £2.50 for concessions.

Read Chris West’s blog A Cup of Tea and its consequences, or purchase First Class – a History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps through our online shop.

The first drive-in post office in the United Kingdom

On 11 December 1959, the United Kingdom’s first drive-in post office opened. It was situated at the new Wharf Street Branch Post Office under the centre archway of the Wharf Street Telephone Exchange building in Leicester, which had a private road running through it.

Customer makes a purchase from drive-in post office, 1960 (P 7183 from POST 122/3954)

Customer makes a purchase from drive-in post office, 1960 (P 7183 from POST 122/3954)

The drive-in post office was to handle straightforward transactions, such as the sale of stamps and postal orders. Drivers would be served from the comfort of their cars via a drive-in counter adjacent to the covered roadway. The intention was that as a car drew up to the drive-in counter, the counter clerk would hear a bell ring. The counter clerk and driver would communicate via microphones and loudspeakers. When the driver had told the counter clerk what was required, a tray was to be extended to the driver upon which money would be placed. The counter clerk would withdraw the tray and exchange the money for whatever had been requested. Letters etc. could be returned by tray but packets and parcels were to be passed to the counter clerk through a hatch.

Despite being announced in a burst of fanfare, the drive-in post office was ultimately considered to be a failure. From the initial 60 to 70 customers a day, this fell to 20 to 25 a day and, by 1963, the number of customers had tailed off to three per day and even this was not always maintained.

Customer collects purchase from Drive-In Post Office, 1960 (P7182 from POST 122/3954)

Customer collects purchase from Drive-In Post Office, 1960 (P7182 from POST 122/3954)

Its location was not ideal. Although adjacent to a public car park, it was situated at a branch and not a head post office, was not on a main road and was away from the main businesses and shopping area of the city.

The drive-in post office suffered from design flaws. The signs directing customers, for example, were too small. Most drivers stopped too far away from the drive-in counter so it was rarely possible to use the tray as had been originally intended. In fact, the tray was rarely used because the unsatisfactory nature of the microphones and loudspeaker equipment. Clerks found that it was easier to raise the glass screen and lean out of the window in order to conduct transactions. The archway also formed a wind tunnel. The wind had sometimes torn paper money, stamps or postal orders from customers so that some had had to leave their cars in order to chase after them.

In fact, there had been scepticism about the viability of such a venture right from the start. A number of the Regional Directors felt that post office counter business did not readily lend itself to this form of service, whilst the United States postal administration reported that such facilities were expensive to provide.

Customer collects purchase (P7185 from POST 122/3954)

Customer collects purchase (P7185 from POST 122/3954)

Although the drive-in post office was considered to be a failure, it did not stop the Post Office from trying out other innovative ideas at this time, including the opening of a self service post office suite in Luton on 4 July 1960 where motorists could buy stamps and post their mail.

- Louise Todd, Archivist

This blog was researched at the Royal Mail Archive, located at BPMA’s headquarters in Clerkenwell, London. There are millions of stories to uncover at the Royal Mail Archive, see our website for Archive opening hours and visitor information.