“Behind the Scenes” : Christmas at the Post Office

‘We post our letters of good cheer/ Now that Christmas draws so near’. Early 20th century Christmas card. © Royal Mail Group Ltd, courtesy of The Postal Museum, 2005-0101/2 In 1843 Henry Cole, who had campaigned along with Rowland Hill for the introduction of the Penny Post, invented the first Christmas card. The idea soon… Read More

The Innkeeper Postmaster and the French Fugitives

Armand Philippon. By Richard Caton Woodville, Jr. – National Army Museum, London. Accessed via  On Saturday last John Hughes, innkeeper and postmaster of Rye, and William Robinson, who (with a man named William Platter) were convicted… of having aided in the escape of General Phillippon [sic] and Lieutenant Garnier, were placed in and upon… Read More

Measurements and Messengers: Growing Pains in the General Post Office

Boy messenger at Paddington Station, 1935 © Royal Mail Group Ltd [1935], courtesy of The Postal Museum, POST 118/426 In 1936 the Postmaster-General wrote in an article entitled ‘Making an A1 Nation’ that ‘the Post Office may indeed fairly claim…that it has in its employment a healthy and happy body of boys of whose conduct… Read More

Getting Hands on with Occupational Health

On 9th of April our project launched an exhibition at the Museum of Communication Burntisland entitled Hand Health in the Post Office. The exhibition traces the long history of occupational hand disorders in the workplace, from telegraphists’ cramp in the nineteenth and early twentieth century Post Office through to the “occupational epidemic” of Repetitive Strain… Read More

Blindness in the Post Office

When we think of blindness in the Post Office, one example typically comes to mind: that of Henry Fawcett, ‘the blind postmaster’. Blinded in a hunting accident at the age of twenty-five, Henry nonetheless managed to fulfil his academic and political aspirations. He oversaw a key period of modernisation in the Post Office, introducing revised… Read More

Dr Joseph Chick

Joe Chick joins the Addressing Health team as a part-time research assistant. Joe is an historian of urban society who completed an ESRC-funded PhD at the University of Warwick in 2020. His research looks into urban society from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. It focuses on towns held by monastic lords, traditionally associated with… Read More

Melancholy Martyrs to Progress – the hazards of working on the Limited Mail

A Mid-Victorian Travelling Post Office van. (A travelling clerk, complete with carpetbag, is standing at the door).  Source: Routledge, Robert. Discoveries & Inventions of the Nineteenth Century, 13th Edition, London: George Routledge & Sons Ltd, 1900, p 111 Dr Augustus Waller Lewis, Chief Medical Officer to the Post Office, made an unexpected journey to the… Read More

Doug Brown (1977-2021)

Doug Brown: Historian, colleague, and friend We’re a project that deals with a lot of death. It’s something woven into the fabric of our working lives, a well-rehearsed routine: find the death certificates of historic postal workers, order them, download them, transcribe them, codify, analyse. We’ve done this all in a year with death surrounding… Read More

Dr Edith Shove: “She-Doctor” to the General Post Office

The Central Telegraph Office, General Post Office, London, 1874 Source: Illustrated London News, 12 December 1874 “The practical absurdity of directing a female medical inspector to inquire into and report upon the minute of every ailment which may temporarily incapacitate the rougher sex from a performance of their duties in the Telegraph department.”[1] This excerpt… Read More

‘Always at Work’: The Post Office Horse

‘He begins his week’s work at four o’clock on Sunday afternoon; he ends it at half-past ten on Sunday morning; and at any time during that long week he is liable for instant service, and has only five and a half hours’ undisturbed rest…that is the only respite he is sure of—just enough, as it… Read More

Prescribing golf: sport, health, and the Post Office

The Isis Swimming ClubSource: St Martin’s-le-Grand, 13 (1903), 108. Courtesy of The Postal Museum Amongst the pages of St Martin’s-le-Grand – a magazine for Post Office employees which ran from 1890 to 1933 – it is difficult to miss the significance of sport to postal workers. Accounts of sporting fixtures abound, showing the variety of… Read More

Big Data and Working Lives

Letter carrier with dog, silhouette (watercolour). Courtesy of The Postal Museum, London. In the last decade or so big data has become an increasingly common phrase in all manner of academic fields. British history has been no exception. Numerous projects have produced large datasets about various issues including the legacies of slavery, British fertility decline,… Read More