Tag Archives: Mobile Post Office

Transfer of Mobile Post Office to Nene Valley Railway

On Monday 13 May, BPMA and Nene Valley Railway completed the transfer of a 1970s Mobile Post Office (OB1997.233 and 234) from BPMA to the railway, where it will be used in their interpretive and fundraising activities.

The 1970s Mobile Post Office. (OB1997.233 and 234)

The 1970s Mobile Post Office. (OB1997.233 and 234)

The Mobile Post Office, which has the number plate GGO 926J, was one of a number of vehicles that were de-accessioned from the BPMA collection some months ago and it is hoped that it will attract a large and appreciative audience in its new location.

Anyone seeking to view the vehicle at its new home should contact Nene Valley Railway for information on access and its location. Being a mobile office, this is bound to change in the years to come. However, it is very likely that the vehicle will be on display at their Rail Mail weekend on 13th/14th July 2013.

- Julian Stray, Curator

Our paintings on Your Paintings

The BPMA is the custodian of two main collections: the archive of the Royal Mail and the BPMA Museum Collection. The vast influence the postal industry has had in shaping British society, and the world, is reflected throughout our collections. They include photographs, films, ephemera, weapons, uniforms, vehicles, trains and letterboxes – and artwork, including a number of works in oil.

The subject matter of our oil paintings includes portraits of people who had a significant impact on postal services, such as past Postmaster Generals or Secretaries of the Post Office, as well of those of unnamed postal workers.

Portrait of a Postman (Alex Buchanan) by Thomas Patterson (2004-0077)

Portrait of a Postman (Alex Buchanan) by Thomas Patterson (2004-0077)

Specific historical events are depicted, such as the bombing of Mount Pleasant Parcel depot in the Second World War, while others are more general scenes of times past, including extensive representations of the Mail Coach era.

The Halfway House: A Mail Coach outside the 'Greyhounds Inn' by James Pollard (OB1995.519)

The Halfway House: A Mail Coach outside the ‘Greyhounds Inn’ by James Pollard (OB1995.519)

Changing transport methods, from the seas to the skies, and road to rails, is also captured in these works.

Mobile Post Office, Henley by Adrian Keith Graham Hill (POST 109/203)

Mobile Post Office, Henley by Adrian Keith Graham Hill (POST 109/203)

Landmark buildings – such as the GPO Tower and the old GPO building in the City of London – sit next to depictions of local post offices and more domestic scenes; the excitement of receiving a letter is portrayed more than once.

The Postman by Thomas Liddall Armitage (OBB 1997.5)

The Postman by Thomas Liddall Armitage (OBB 1997.5)

Recently our collection of oil paintings was made available on the Your Paintings website, a partnership between the BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation which aims to show the entire UK national collection of oil paintings. Paintings from thousands of museums and other public institutions appear on the site.

Visit the BPMA page on Your Paintings to see our collection of works in oil, or search the site to view postal-themed paintings from other institutions. We like Army Post Office 3, Boulogne by John Lavery from the Imperial War Museum, and Post Office, Port Sunlightby Keith Gardner from The Port Sunlight Museum. What’s your favourite?

BPMA in the Lord Mayor’s Show

Those of us who participated in the Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday had a fantastic time. It was the first time our 1930s Mobile Post Office, GPO2, had been on the road in 30 years and its journey was undertaken without incident.

GPO2 in the parade. (Photo by Anne-Grethe Jensen)

GPO2 in the parade. (Photo by Anne-Grethe Jensen)

Staff and Friends of the BPMA along with a strong contingent from the Postal History Society walked alongside GPO2 carrying special umbrellas. The BPMA umbrellas will soon be on sale in our online shop.

Walking along with BPMA and Postal History Society umbrellas.

Walking along with BPMA and Postal History Society umbrellas.

Being cheered along by thousands of people was a unique experience, and from a museum point of view it was exciting to see the crowds point out the various details on GPO2, including the stamp vending machine advertising stamps for 1d.

The stamp vending machine and posting aperture, which are built into the side of GPO2.

The stamp vending machine and posting aperture, which are built into the side of GPO2.

Below are some photos taken by parade participants and those who watched us in the crowd. More photos can be found on Flickr. BPMA Friend Glenn Morgan has also uploaded some photos and videos to Flickr.

The BBC’s coverage of the Lord Mayor’s Show can be seen on BBC iPlayer (we appear about 45 minutes into the broadcast). Also available on iPlayer is a BBC London interview with our Curator Chris Taft about our participation in the event (fast forward 2 hours and 10 minutes to hear it).

In the cab and ready to roll: driver Clive and his son. In front: John from The Postal History Society, who dressed up in an old Post Office uniform.

In the cab and ready to roll: driver Clive and his son. In front: John from The Postal History Society, who dressed up in an old Post Office uniform.

Also in the parade were a number of black cabs from different eras.

Also in the parade were a number of black cabs from different eras.

Inspectors from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Inspectors from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

One of several carnival groups.

One of several carnival groups.

Lions Club International had a huge inflatable Earth on their float.

Lions Club International had a huge inflatable Earth on their float.

The London Field Hospital move off in the parade.

The London Field Hospital move off in the parade.

The AA, with their fleet of old vehicles. Thankfully we didn’t need their assistance during the parade.

The AA, with their fleet of old vehicles. Thankfully we didn’t need their assistance during the parade.

This float was behind us in the parade. They sang the virtues of a new shopping centre in Cheapside the entire way – we still have their songs in our heads!

This float was behind us in the parade. They sang the virtues of a new shopping centre in Cheapside the entire way – we still have their songs in our heads!

Driving past the official party. (Photo by Peter Dare)

Driving past the official party. (Photo by Peter Dare)

The Lord Mayor’s Aide-de-Camp after he posted some mail in GPO2 on behalf of the Lord Mayor. In the stand above are the Lord Mayor and the rest of the official party.

The Lord Mayor’s Aide-de-Camp after he posted some mail in GPO2 on behalf of the Lord Mayor. In the stand above are the Lord Mayor and the rest of the official party.

There were big crowds watching the parade near St Pauls Cathedral, including many in specially erected stands.

There were big crowds watching the parade near St Pauls Cathedral, including many in specially erected stands.

The parade takes a lunch break in this side street off Aldwych.

The parade takes a lunch break in this side street off Aldwych.

Back on the road… A group representing Hong Kong.

Back on the road… A group representing Hong Kong.

Workers take a break from building Crossrail to watch the parade.

Workers take a break from building Crossrail to watch the parade.

This lady was happy to see us!

This lady was happy to see us!

We pass the Nomura building in St Martins-le-Grand, once the site of GPO Headquarters.

We pass the Nomura building in St Martins-le-Grand, once the site of GPO Headquarters.

Commemorative Postcards to be carried in GPO2 during the Lord Mayor’s Show

In a previous blog you will have read about how we are taking part in the Lord Mayor’s Show on 13 November, in partnership with the Postal History Society.

GPO publicity for the 1930s Mobile Post Office

GPO publicity for the 1930s Mobile Post Office

One of the largest road vehicles in our collection, the Mobile Post Office GPO2 is taking to the streets of London alongside over 6,000 participants, 200 vehicles, 21 carriages, 71 floats, 150 horses and 20 marching bands. It will provide the perfect opportunity to publicly showcase what we do here at the BPMA.

To celebrate this special event, we have developed a limited edition commemorative full colour postcard which features the 1930s GPO2 publicity image shown here. These postcards will travel in the parade onboard GPO2 and later be cancelled by a special handstamp created by Adrian Bradbury, based on the original GPO2 cancellation design. The postcard will also bear a specially designed GPO2 cachet and a 47p Blackfriars Bridge stamp (2002 issue).

The commemorative postcard created to celebrate the BPMA taking part in the Lord Mayor’s Show 2010

The commemorative postcard created to celebrate the BPMA taking part in the Lord Mayor’s Show 2010

Only 150 commemorative postcards will be produced and are available now for purchase. Each postcard costs £3.99 and is available by telephoning 020 7239 5125 or sending a cheque made payable to Postal Heritage Services Limited to Product Sales, BPMA, Freeling House, Phoenix Place, London WC1X 0DL.

The Lord Mayor’s Show 2010

The British Postal Museum & Archive are proud to announce that the 13th November 2010 will see one of the largest road vehicles in the BPMA collection, the Mobile Post Office GPO2 taking to the streets of London as part of the BPMA’s contribution to one of the longest established and best known annual events in London, the Lord Mayor’s Show. This contribution is in partnership with the Postal History Society who celebrate their 75th anniversary next year.

GPO publicity for the 1930s Mobile Post Office

GPO publicity for the 1930s Mobile Post Office

With over 6,000 participants, 200 vehicles, 21 carriages, 71 floats, 150 horses and 20 marching bands, the Lord Mayor’s Show is the largest parade of its kind with half a million people turning up to watch the parade and millions more watching on the BBC. It will provide the perfect opportunity to publicly showcase what we do here at the BPMA.

The parade will begin with a military flypast over Mansion House at 11am to celebrate the inaugural outing of the 683rd Lord Mayor of the City of London. The procession will then travel from Mansion House to St Paul’s Cathedral, where the new Lord Mayor is blessed by the Dean of St Paul’s before the procession carries on to the Royal Courts of Justice where the Lord Mayor swears an oath of allegiance to the sovereign before the Lord Chief Justice and Judges of the Queen’s Bench Division, as enshrined in the charter of King John (the original of which can be viewed at the Museum of London).

Ian Lider, Lord Mayor of London for the year 2008/9, waves from the State Coach on his way to swear loyalty to the Crown.

Ian Lider, Lord Mayor of London for the year 2008/9, waves from the State Coach on his way to swear loyalty to the Crown.

The procession then sets off at 1pm on the return journey along Victoria Embankment to Mansion House, where the newly sworn-in Lord Mayor arrives to be greeted by the City Aldermen and Livery Company Masters in their colourful gowns.

The day culminates in a fireworks extravaganza between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges on the Thames from 5pm.

If you would like to see an important piece of postal history make a striking addition to this historical event you can get a good view from anywhere on the processional route. For visitor advice, useful maps and timetables, tips on how to get to the parade and where to stand, details of the procession and lots of information about the history of the Show please see the Lord Mayor’s Show website.

Commemorative postcard

Handstamp created for use on the commemorative cover postcard based on the original GPO2 cancellation

Handstamp created for use on the commemorative cover postcard based on the original GPO2 cancellation

To celebrate taking part in the Lord Mayor’s Show, the BPMA has developed a limited edition commemorative full colour postcard which features the 1930s GPO2 publicity image above. These postcards will travel in the parade onboard GPO2 and later be cancelled by a special handstamp created by Adrian Bradbury, based on the original GPO2 cancellation design. The postcard will also bear a specially designed GPO2 cachet and a 47p Blackfriars Bridge stamp (2002 issue).

Only 150 commemorative postcards will be produced and these can now be pre-ordered. Each postcard costs £3.99 and is available by telephoning 020 7239 5125 or sending a cheque made payable to Postal Heritage Services Limited to Product Sales, BPMA, Freeling House, Phoenix Place, London WC1X 0DL.

Post Offices

Cover of Post Offices by Julian Stray

Cover of Post Offices by Julian Stray

The local post office has a special place in the social history of Britain. A new book, published by Shire Publications and written by the BPMA’s Assistant Curator Julian Stray, provides an historical overview of the development of this public institution – from “letter receiving house” to familiar high-street presence.

Outlining the range of services post offices have provided over time – from stamps, pensions and postal orders, to airmail, savings certificates, dog and TV licences – and highlighting the “heyday of the GPO” during the 1930s, 40s and 50s, Julian Stray recalls childhood memories of post office counters selling stamps and sweets, the weekly pension queue, and the friendly local postmaster.

Also examined are the many different types of post offices, from the village sub-office to mobile post offices in tents used in bombed areas during the Second World War.

The sub-post office at Shipton-under-Wychwood opened before 1847, but relinquished its title as England’s oldest post office when it closed in 1975.

Shipton-under-Wychwood Post Office, Oxfordshire c.1900

Shipton-under-Wychwood Post Office, Oxfordshire c.1900

By the late 1920s, post office frontages were heavy with advertising. Notices relating to overseas mail and telephone services were a common sight.

The branch office at Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London, c. late 1920s.

The branch office at Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London, c. late 1920s.

During the Second World War mobile, tented post offices were produced for quick deployment to areas that had lost their office as a result of enemy bombing.

Mobile post office set up in a bombed area of London, 1941

Mobile post office set up in a bombed area of London, 1941

After 1969, when the Post Office became a public corporation and its relationship with the Ministry of Works ended, local architects designed new offices.

Guildford’s North Street post office (1970-72), by architects Roman Halter and Associates, was a radical departure from previous offices; the building incorporated wrap-around glazing and a projecting gazebo.

Guildford’s North Street post office (1970-72), by architects Roman Halter and Associates, was a radical departure from previous offices; the building incorporated wrap-around glazing and a projecting gazebo.

Post Offices by Julian Stray is a celebration of a very British institution now threatened by modern-day forces. It is now available from the BPMA online shop.

Blists Hill: Construction has started!

by Alison Norris, Ironbridge Project Assistant

Exhibition building work has now started above the Post Office at Blists Hill, which signals the start of the most exciting part of the project as everything comes together.

It is anticipated that the BPMA curatorial staff will be able to start placing objects within their new display cases at the end of the month.

During a recent BPMA visit to the workshops of fit-out contractors the Hub, we saw a number of prototypes of elements of the exhibition. In particular we saw a large display case which will house a model of the GPO3 (Mobile Post Office), and also a wall panel which has to have various removable sections to allow for access to windows and the hanging of images and text panels.

Prototype of wall display panel

Prototype of wall display panel

Prototype display case for Blists Hill

Prototype display case for GPO3 mobile post office model

The BPMA, the Hub, and the design team also made a site visit at the end of August before construction started to iron out any final decisions on elements such as lighting and health and safety. On the day we were pleased to see large queues of people waiting to get in to the site – which bodes well for lots of people seeing our exhibition when it opens!

Queues to get in to Blists Hill

Queues to get in to Blists Hill

Work has also begun between Blists Hill staff and the BPMA on events that the BPMA can be involved with in the future. The two largest events in the Blists Hill calendar are Queen Victoria’s 81st birthday celebrations in May, and weekend events in the lead up to Christmas.

Please see the July blog update for more information on how to get there.

Exhibition Interactive

Three Penfolds pillar boxes in the collection of the BPMA

Three Penfolds pillar boxes in the collection of the BPMA

As part of the exhibition, an interactive section has been developed based around Penfold pillar boxes. Through a series of turning paddles, the interactive will show the visitor that the basic design of the Penfold did not change over time, but the arrangement of the key elements did.

The photograph left shows three Penfold pillar boxes in the BPMA collection, each with four elements in their design that changed position. These are the royal coat of arms, the posting aperture, the collection plate, and the ‘VR’ symbol of Victoria Regina. The visitor will be able to choose where they think each of these elements is best placed on a Penfold by turning the paddles.