Wednesday, July 15, 2015
The early post
This 1863 Liverpool Special pillar box* at Liverpool's Albert Dock is the survivor of seven that were originally made for the city. It dates to a time when the idea of a standard post box (indeed the idea of a post box tout court) was still quite new. The variety of different designs made since the first boxes appeared in the early 1850s led the Post Office to introduce a standard design – a cylindrical box with a horizontal slot – in 1859. But not everyone liked it and Liverpool's authorities went for their own design. What's now called the Liverpool Special, topped with a crown, was the result.
I've posted this striking box today because the Royal Mail and Historic England† have just announced a new agreement to ensure the protection and preservation of the country's post boxes – there are 115,300 of them – in their existing locations. This comes at a time when postal services are much used (all those packages containing items bought on the internet, all that junk mail), but when the old-fashioned letter post is in decline thanks to the prevalence of email. I'm pleased this initiative is being taken: readers who return regularly to this blog with know of my liking for old boxes – pillar boxes, lamp boxes, Ludlows, and the rest. Let's all resolve to post some letters, so that they're actually used.
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*The image of the Liverpool Special box is from a photograph by Steve Knight.
†Historic England is the public body that looks after England's 'historic environment'.