Postboxes – The British Newspaper Archive Blog



Postboxes are magical little things, full of surprises untold. Perhaps you’ll find a letter from a loved one or a package of treats inside. And just like their interior contents, their exterior appearances can also vary widely. We found a lovely spread of different postboxes from around the world. And do you know who we have to thank for even having postboxes in the UK? Read on to discover!

(Click images to enlarge.)

different countries mailboxes
The Sphere | 21 December 1907
Mailman and bag
The Sketch | 16 December 1908

‘The bag, which has a metal edging to its mouth, is slipped into a groove under the box, and the bottom of the box is then pulled away. Thus there is no chance of letters sticking in the box’.

mailbox curiosities
The Sphere | 16 October 1909

‘Residents of the picturesque village of Ombersley in Worcestershire have succeeded in inducing the Post Office authorities to introduce an innovation which when it becomes known will probably be applied for in other out-of-the-way districts. The good people of Ombersley felt that their letters should be delivered in the city of Worcester, five or six miles distant, far more expeditiously than they were, the two or three daily collections from the local pillar box being considered inadequate; moreover, the communications were sent by a circuitous route via Droitwich. An idea struck one of the residents. The local omnibus ran to and from Worcester no fewer than five times daily; why not have a letter box on the ‘bus? The Post Office authorities were approached on the matter, and the Post Office surveyor for the district, seeing the feasibility and indeed the reasonableness of the application, had a letter box made and fixed tot he rear part of the ‘bus with the hours of collection duly printed thereon. Anyone is at liberty to post letters in this box. It is easy to imagine people sprinting along the country road between Ombersley and Worcester for the purpose of dropping communications into this travelling letter box. On nearing the head office at Worcester the driver of the ‘bus blows a shrill blast on his whistle. Immediately a Post Office official comes out, key in hand, and in less time than it takes to tell it the box is cleared’.

Anthony Trollope
Graphic | 16 December 1882

Anthony Trollope was both a novelist and a postal worker. Of his published works, he is best known for his series the Chronicles of Barsetshire. During his postal career, he was a leading campaigner for establishing postboxes and is credited with introducing the pillar box to the United Kingdom. Read more here.


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