In Towns and small Villages all over the Country Post Offices are being closed inflicting yet another problem on our aged and disabled population.

Since the Supermarkets opened, lack of support has forced the small General Stores who ran them to close. This was where OAP’s collected their pensions etc. and met their neighbours for a chat. Many now have to travel miles or find someone to collect their money for them.

Some Villages are attacking the problem by taking on the services in the Local Pub or Village Hall but this can only be a short term solution.

Did You Know?

We used to have the best Postal Service in the world! It was taken for granted. Putting a letter into a red box was as good as handing it to the addressee.

The mail was constantly transported by train. Starting with the early morning ‘Milk Train’ it arrived at its destination at regular intervals throughout the day. Postmen were waiting to collect it when the train pulled into the station and quickly loaded the bags onto their handcarts. It was then taken to the Post Office where it was sorted straight away. Every business and household had two deliveries a day. [Except Sundays].

bungay postIn those days everybody used The Post Office. Very few people had a telephone and the only way to get an urgent message to someone was to send a telegram. These were telegraphed to the Town nearest to the addressee so had to be brief. There was a maximum of about twenty-four words allowed and the cost was calculated depending on the number used. On receipt, the printed communication was pasted onto an official form, put into an envelope and usually delivered by a young man. He was smartly dressed in a blue uniform, riding a red bicycle.

bungay postThe telegram was carried in a pouch attached to a leather belt worn around his waist. To convey good wishes at special events such as weddings etc. telegrams were considered more personal and often sent instead of cards.

However, because of the ill tidings they so often carried during the war years anybody receiving one unexpectedly would anxiously sign for it with shaking hands before ripping open the brown envelope to read the contents.

Ordinary people did not have a Bank Account and if they had reason to send money through the Post they would use a Postal Order. These were obtained over the counter for a small fee and anyone receiving one could cash it at any Post Office.

The only other way was to give the money to someone with a Bank Account and ask them to write you a cheque. Unfortunately, if the recipient didn’t use a Bank either they had to find someone who did and was willing to give them the cash and pay the cheque into their account. Most shopkeepers were willing to do this if it was in exchange for goods. In those days the Bank accepted cheques made out to another person if the account holder put their signature on the back.

valley ladWhenever they could afford it people put a few shillings into a Post Office Savings Account. It was a common practice in days gone by to press a silver coin into the hand of a new born baby and this was how many accounts were opened. It would then be built on at times like birthdays and Christmas. Children were unable to withdraw any of it until they reached the age of seven. After that they could take out up to three pounds at any one time. This also applied to adult savers.

It should be said there were not very many working class families in a position to put anything more than the odd penny or two aside for their children and if they did they would more than likely spend them on sweets.

valley ladThere has been lots of changes to our lifestyle and many of the things we depended on the Post Office for are no longer needed. Everyone still likes to receive letters and cards and yet, how often do we correspond that way with our friends and relatives nowadays?

The telephone, Mobile, E Mail and Texts are rapidly taking over. Even the old familiar red kiosks, at one time within everyone’s reach, are no longer used and have almost disappeared.

It’s good to see how the remaining Post Offices are hitting back, offering new diverse services and expanding commercially. The so called Junk Mail which is put in our letter boxes whether we want it or not must go some way to replacing those letters and cards and the volume of mail the Postman has to deliver. But is it enough?

The Post Office has given a good service to the public through the years and it is up to everyone to do what they can to support them and ensure they are still there in the future.

valley lad – [ELEVEN]