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The Post Office

The first messengers in Britain were probably the Romans.  Their roads were well used later by delivery people on horseback.  As they became more popular, routes were established and coaching inns were used to rest horses and break up the journey.  The Clarence Villa (Kicking Cuddy) was a coaching inn in Coxhoe as was The Hare & Hounds, although it started life as a row of cottages before being converted into a coaching inn.

In about 1609 a proclamation came about so that all mail was dealt with through the State, unofficial carriers were no longer allowed. Charles I began to develop a profit making system available to the general public by 1635.

The General Post Office (GPO) was put into place after the restoration of the Monarchy in Charles II time (1660) and Henry Bishop was the first Postmaster General. A hand stamp was used to show when letters were received in Post Offices and overall control of them passed from King to the Treasury.

1609 Proclamation

In 1680 William Dockwa introduced the London Penny post for local delivery.  John Palmer created a coach delivery service in 1784.  The first journey was made from Bristol to London, stopping at Bath overnight, it took 16 hours.  This system needed horses to be changed every ten miles because of the speed at which they traveled.

John Palmer's Mail Coach Stamp

John Palmers mail coach commemorated by a stamp

In 1680 William Dockwa introduced the London Penny post for local delivery.  John Palmer created a coach delivery service in 1784.  The first journey was made from Bristol to London, stopping at Bath overnight, it took 16 hours.  This system needed horses to be changed every ten miles because of the speed at which they traveled.

The Penny Post was a system where items weighing up to a 1 lb was delivered for 1d.  This was increased in 1801 to 2d to help fund the war with Napoleon.  By 1830 the GPO was transporting mail along the new Liverpool to Manchester Railway.

The prepaid stamp as we know it came about between 1839 – 1840 when the “Penny Black” went on sale.

One Penny Stamp

One Penny Stamp

Coxhoe Postmark

Coxhoe Postmark

Post Card

The UK postal system was established in 1959 and by 1969 the Post Office became a nationalized corporation, thus ending 306 years of the Post Master General.

In 1840 letter carriers could earn about 6 shillings, and a mail coach guard about 10s. A working day could start as early as 4.30 am when the coach or train arrived with the mail. In Coxhoe (circa 1851-1855) Thomas Laing was the Post Master at the Post Office at Blackgate on Pit Hill. Letters would arrive at 10.15 am and depart at 3.15 pm. Between 1865 – 1890, Thomas Kingston was the Post Master of the Post Money Order and Telegraph Office situated between the Church and Methodist Chapel. Letters arrived at 6 am and were dispatched to Ferryhill at 9.40 am and 6.35pm. On Sunday the mail arrived at 6 am and were dispatched at 5.15 pm.

Early Postmen had no specific uniform, especially in rural parts when they were well known.  In London they wore red coats with blue lapels and brass buttons to be more identifiable.  Uniforms gradually became widely used across the country and postmen had identity numbers sewn onto their coat collars.  This was changed in 1861 to blue with GPO initials on the collar and a peaked hat.  The uniform was modified several more times as was the mode of transport used to deliver the mail.  It went from horses and coaches to bicycles, motor cycles to trains.

World War 1 had a great effect on the postal system.  It was vital for conveying information between the front line and home front, and its censorship was vital.

Coxhoe Post Office

Coxhoe Post Office

Coxhoe Post Office 2009

Coxhoe Post Office 2009

The following article was taken from The Leeds Mercury Dec 9 1858 Issue 6883

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The following article was taken from The Newcastle Courant Jun 3 1881 Issue 10770

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