Slaithwaite gets the stamp of approval!
A post box in Slaithwaite is about to become one of the town's well-known landmarks after being featured on its very own stamp! As we've been finding out, it marks the fact that West Yorkshire's always played its part in getting the mail through...
Slaithwaite's post box stamp
To you and me it probably looks just like any small, red and, some might say, rather nondescript post box somewhere in Slaithwaite - but to the initiated, it's an Elizabeth II Type A Wall Box. Nothing to get excited about you might think but it's now being seen on doormats across the land as it's one of four stamps marking the 200th anniversary of the post box. And guess where the first post box was located? West Yorkshire, of course, and Wakefield to be exact!
The earliest dateable posting 'slot' goes all the way back to 1809 when it was installed at Wakefield Post Office on Wood Street. It was, of course, the start of a long line of post boxes which spread all across Britain. It took a while, though. Following the arrival of the country's first roadside pillar boxes in 1852, a cheaper and more practical alternative was needed for less populated and remote areas and the smaller post box was found to be the answer. From 1857 they began appearing in walls, buildings or brick pillars.
But, as Wendy Gess from the Royal Mail explains, Wakefield's post box was a pioneer: "It's believed that it was designed by the Postmaster's clerk. Early on, they used to be responsible for their own 'posting slots' as they used to be called, and that's all we really know about that particular one. They were more like apertures or windows. Very early on, before you actually paid to send your post, it was the recipient's responsibility to pay to receive the letter."
This venerable old post box was moved to Wakefield Museum in the early 1960s when the Post Office was demolished, but with 115,000 post boxes of all shapes and sizes now found on street corners across the country, you can begin to understand just why the Royal Mail might want to mark its birthday. That's why the search was begun to find four working post boxes and, of course, there just had to be one from West Yorkshire.
First post: Wakefield's 1809 post box
Wendy Gess says the search wasn't easy: "We worked with the British Postal Museum and Archive and the Letterbox Study Group to select different post box designs and locations that represent a chronological and geographical representation of distinctive wall boxes across the UK." And that's how they ended up 'going postal' in Slaithwaite.
Whether the Slaithwaite box lasts for 200 years like its Wakefield counterpart is another matter, but one thing's for sure: whether people know it or not, they're going to be getting a miniature snapshot of just one tiny corner of West Yorkshire on their daily post from now on. It's only fair that West Yorkshire gets the stamp of approval, after all it once again proves that where we lead - others follow!
Picture of Slaithwaite's post box stamp © Royal Mail. Picture of Wakefield's 1809 post box © Wakefield Council Sport and Culture. Both images used with permission.
last updated: 24/08/2009 at 11:22
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
West Yorkshire people's lives and stories revealed!