Wartime survivor returned to the BPMA

The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) is delighted announce that items that have been on loan at the Museum of London for almost 100 years have now been returned to the BPMA. 

One of the first London post boxes, with a time plate on the side.

One of the first London post boxes, with a time plate on the side.

In 1912, the then General Post Office (GPO) loaned a variety of items to the London Museum (now Museum of London), the majority of which have now been returned to the BPMA.

Amongst the items that were given as a loan was one of the ‘time plates’ from one of the first six London post boxes from 1855. Unfortunately, the post box was destroyed during the Second World War, but luckily the unique collection plate survived and has now been returned to the BPMA. None of the first six London post boxes has survived to this day. The first six London pillar boxes were rectangular in shape and around five feet tall.

Time plate from one of the first London post boxes.

Time plate from one of the first London post boxes.

Other items returned to the BPMA include three truncheons issued to postal staff in 1843 in response to the Chartist riots; a Mail Coach Guards horn; a Coffee House Date Stamp, a Flintlock pistol and a Timepiece (complete with key). Timepieces were carried by Mail Coach Guards and postal staff on the Travelling Post Offices (TPOs). There was no national standard time until 1880, and the mail guard would carry an official timepiece set to ‘London time’. This was locked shut and any deviations from contracted arrival and departure times were recorded on special time bills.

The unique collection plate is now held at the British Postal Museum Store, Debden, Essex, and can be viewed during scheduled Open Afternoons and Evenings, as well as at the Discover Session on Square Pillar Boxes on 19th September 2009.

Julian Stray, Assistant Curator at the BPMA commented:
“We are delighted to bring these wonderful postal artefacts back into our collection after so long. They offer a glimpse of mail practices long since abandoned, and can hopefully now find a new audience.”

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