Tag Archives: tea break

The London Postal School

Regular readers of this blog will have seen our recent post about the digitised lantern slides of Foreign Postal Workers we recently added to Flickr. We have now added more digitised lantern slides to Flickr, this time related to the London Postal School (LPS).

'London Postal School. Postmens Retiring Room. Tea Time' - Lantern Slide (2012-0049/13)

‘London Postal School. Postmens Retiring Room. Tea Time’ – Lantern Slide (2012-0049/13)

The London Postal School was, as the name suggests, the General Post Office’s training facility for postal workers. The School taught trainees how to perform a variety of tasks and functions, from serving on a Post Office counter to sorting and delivering the mail.

As in today’s workplace training sessions students at the London Postal School attended illustrated presentations related to their work, but this being the first half of the 20th Century the students viewed lantern slide shows rather than PowerPoint presentations. The slides from these shows are now part of our Museum Collection, and they give an interesting insight into postal operations of the period.

One lantern slide shows the Post Office branch at Charing Cross, which is described as “very old”. With its ornate exterior and cramped interior it is markedly less modern than the Post Offices at Kentish Town and Albemarle Street.

'London Postal School. Very old P.O. Charing Cross B.O. Exterior' - Lantern Slide (2012-0049/17)

‘London Postal School. Very old P.O. Charing Cross B.O. Exterior’ – Lantern Slide (2012-0049/17)

There are also a number of slides showing airmail operations, then a new and groundbreaking mode of postal delivery, and some showing the mail bag exchange system used on the Travelling Post Offices, rail services on which mail was collected, sorted and dispatched on the move.

'London Postal School. T.P.O. Bags in Position. Net down' - Lantern Slide (2012-0049-27)

‘London Postal School. T.P.O. Bags in Position. Net down’ – Lantern Slide (2012-0049-27)

Finally, there are a variety of slides showing sorting offices and the various technologies employed there such as chutes, the “Creeper” conveyor belt system (below), and the stamping machine and facing table. What the trainees made of all this we’ll never know!

'London Postal School. Mails being conveyed by ''Creeper'' from/ the Landing Stage to Customs Baggage Room' - Lantern Slide (2012-0049/40)

‘London Postal School. Mails being conveyed by ”Creeper” from/ the Landing Stage to Customs Baggage Room’ – Lantern Slide (2012-0049/40)

Visit our Flickr site to see the London Postal School lantern slides.

London Postal Service School

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.

Mails being conveyed by "Creeper" from the Landing Stage to Customs Baggage Room', c.1930-c.1940 (2012-0049/40)

Mails being conveyed by “Creeper” from the Landing Stage to Customs Baggage Room’, c.1930-c.1940 (2012-0049/40)

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!

L.P.S. Postmens’ Retiring Room, Tea Time, c.1930-c.1940 (2012-0049/13)

L.P.S. Postmens’ Retiring Room, Tea Time, c.1930-c.1940 (2012-0049/13)

More of these slides will soon be available on our online catalogue.

Sarah Jenkins – Assistant Cataloguer