Going Postal: The History of Royal Mail Post Boxes

Readers will be aware of our recent series highlighting the Royal Mail Post Boxes spread around the country. These unassuming objects which we often pass by with no thought are and have always been essential features in some of the most amazing locations, keeping people connected up. And still essential today despite the growth of communications by social media and email.

A Post Box on a stand and in the wall a really old post box. Modern communications in Internet boxes beside them

Historic England has published an excellent document on the history of Royal Mail Post Boxes where they remind us that there is a post box within half a mile of over 98% of us.

The variety is incredible: ‘There are around 115,500 pillar, wall, and lamp boxes across the UK.’

At first people still had to go to a letter receiving office in order to post their letters but as postal communication increased a solution was needed to allow people easier access nearer to where they were.

And that solution was provided by none other than the novelist Anthony Trollope who was a GPO official. Whilst in Jersey he looked at what was happening in Europe where roadside boxes were provided for people to post their stamped letters.

It is very easy to be snide about the amazing service provided by such an assuming object as our Royal Mail Post Boxes but because they are so accessible with a universal postage rate we can reach anyone in the UK for the price of a stamp. It is at those significant times in a person’s life: birth, death, birthdays, weddings etc that we really appreciate a card or letter.

You can read more about that by clicking on the link: Royal Mail Post Boxes

Small very old postal box in a stone wall
Location Sorn, Image credit Helen Armet

Post Boxes have also been used in political activism. They have been targeted by protesting groups from Suffragettes to Scottish Republicans objecting to ERII insignia.

Here’s a selection from our series;

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