Tag Archives: post office

All aboard the London to Glasgow mail coach

21 Sep

As part of my search for the location of Thomas KINGHORN’s accident I have been looking once again at the route of the London to Glasgow mail coach. Although I have been focusing quite specifically on the section between between Carlisle and Glasgow, it is interesting to look at the complete journey as a whole.

Obviously the complete journey would not have been made by the same driver, guard or horses (maybe not even the same coach) because the journey time was 57 hours in total. The itinerary below is based on a time bill of 1797, which recorded the stage, distances, time allowed and who was responsible for each section of the route. It is taken from the book The Mail-Coach Men of the late Eighteenth Century by Edmund Vale (Cassell & Company Ltd, London), which includes examples for all the main mail coach routes.

Time Allowed Distance
Day One 8:00 pm Depart General Post-office, London
9:15 pm Whetstone 1 hr 15 mins 10 miles
11:05 pm Brickwall 1 hr 50 mins 14½ miles
12:52 am Baldock 1 hr 47 mins 14½ miles
2:52 am Eaton 2 hrs 18 miles
4:27 am Alconbury Hill 1 hr 35 mins 13 miles
5:17 am Stilton 50 mins 7 miles
7:02 am Stamford 1 hr 45 mins 14 miles
Breakfast 30 mins
10:22 am Grantham 2 hrs 50 mins 21 miles
12:12 pm Newark 1 hr 50 mins 14 miles
1:57 pm Tuxford 1 hr 45 mins 13 miles
3:27 pm Barnaby Moor 1 hr 30 mins 10½ miles
Dinner 40 mins
5:52 pm Doncaster 1 hr 45 mins 14 miles
7:57 pm Ferrybridge 2 hrs 5 mins 15 miles
Supper 30 mins
10:37 pm Wetherby 2 hrs 10 mins 16¾ miles
Day Two 12:07 am Boroughbridge 1 hr 30 mins 12 miles
1:37 am Leeming Lane 1 hr 30 mins 12 miles
2:57 am Catterick Bridge 1 hr 20 mins 11 miles
4:37 am Greta Bridge 1 hr 40 mins 14 miles
6:07 am Spittal (Inn) 1 hr 30 mins 9½ miles
Breakfast 25 mins
8:47 am Appleby 2 hrs 15 mins 17½ miles
10:42 am Penrith 1 hr 55 mins 14 miles
1:02 pm Carlisle 2 hrs 20 mins 18 miles
– One hour break 1 hr
3:17 pm Longtown 1 hr 15 mins 10 miles
5:12 pm Ecclefeckan 1 hr 55 mins 14 miles
6:32 pm Dinwoodie Green 1 hr 20 mins 11 miles
7:52 pm Moffat 1 hr 20 mins 11 miles
Refreshment 25 mins
11:07 pm Abingtown 2 hrs 50 mins 19 miles
Day Three 2:47 am Laverock Hall 3 hrs 40 mins 23½ miles
4:57 am Arrive Post-office Glasgow 2 hrs 10 mins 14½ miles
Total 57 hrs 405¾ miles

As you can see it was quite a journey, 57 hours in total from London to Glasgow with very few breaks along the way. In comparison the journey from London to Glasgow by train takes about four and a half hours these days and by coach/bus is about eight and a half hours.

I think about 10 minutes strapped into the seat at the back of the mail coach would have been enough for me, let alone the many hours that the mail guard had to endure in all weathers.

LONDON: Exploring the British Postal Museum and Archive collections

14 Jun
The British Postal Museum and Archive

The British Postal Museum and Archive

I think I have fallen in love with the British Postal Museum and Archive (BPMA). I have long had a fascination with the Post Office (and at one stage nearly had a job as a postman) and like many small boys I had a small stamp collection (no doubt encouraged by my father) but that didn’t last long.

Whereas the London Metropolitan Archives appeared to me to be a very sterile and functional place, the BPMA was just the opposite, very welcoming and the walls were adorned with artwork from their collection, which made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.

The only drawback to this was that there were so many distractions, I have said before that I am too easily distracted, and here I was sitting in a room with full of distractions. Even the corridor to the toilets was lined with posters and artwork, just as well I wasn’t desperate to go!

The display of stamps designed by David Gentleman next to microfilm reader I was on was particularly distracting, the designs seemed so familiar, although looking online many of these were issued before I was born, so I probably never saw them in use, but just in albums after the event.

Being interested in railways the one set I do remember quite vividly was the 150th anniversary of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway issued in 1980. I don’t think I ever had a complete set, but as a young boy I was fascinated by how they all linked together and you could make up a train as long or short as you could find the stamps for!

Anyway I digress, back to the matter in hand, Thomas KINGHORN the mail guard. Disappointingly I was unable to find any reference to him, which didn’t really surprise me. I know very little about his service, other than the fact he was gave his occupation as a mail guard between 1803 and 1817, and he died in 1833 age 52. I do not know whether he was still employed as a mail guard in 1833 or where he was employed, was it Moffat or Carlisle?

My visit was more about getting a feel for the records available, and trying my luck just in case he was mentioned. I will probably need to carry out a more time consuming and thorough search of some of the records if I am going to stand a chance of learning any more.

What I did learn was a wealth of information concerning the mail coach service as well as reading some of the notices and instructions issued to mail guards. Some of this information has been quoted elsewhere, but it was good to see the originals or at least microfilms of the originals.

Despite not actually coming away with anything I could add to my family tree, it was a really worthwhile visit. It was a wonderful environment to study in, with helpful, efficient and friendly staff.

I didn’t come away totally empty handed, as well as a couple of photocopies I also bought a copy of a book they had on sale, Royal Mail Coaches – An Illustrated History by Frederick Wilkinson. It contains lots of useful information, drawn from some the very records I was looking at, and unlike many of the other books I have seen on the subject, all the information has source references as well. I can’t wait to sit down and spend some time reading that.

Stepping outside the archive I had a tricky decision to make, how on earth was I going to get back to Victoria railway station with an Underground network in disarray?

Post Office appointment books to be made available on Ancestry.co.uk

7 Apr

News from the British Postal Museum and Archive that Post Office appointment books from 1831 to 1960 are to be made available online by Ancestry.co.uk seems to have gone largely unnoticed.

Details on the BPMA website are brief, with no mention as to when they will be available or exactly what it includes, but presumably they are talking about archive class POST 58.

This will be an interesting data-set for both family and local historians, and with the Post Office being such a large employer, I am sure most people will be able to find relations in these records. I can think of at least one relation of mine that should be mentioned (my great grandfather’s second wife’s second husband), but I am sure there will be others.

The British Postal Museum & Archive Blog

26 Mar

Whilst browsing The British Postal Museum & Archive website today I noticed that they had a (relatively) new blog. I am not sure why I was so interested in postal history, but I have been a regular visitor to their website for several years now, and a receiver of their newsletter, but until recently I didn’t realise that I had any Royal Mail employees amongst my ancestors. I think my interest stems from the fact that the Post Office has always been an integral part of English village life.

Their blog is not only appealing to look at (it contains some wonderful images of 1950s posters), but it covers quite a diverse range of subjects from historical to the latest Royal Mail stamp issue.

Personally the most interesting post for me was the one concerning an attack on a mail coach by a lioness, there was I thinking all my 4x great grandfather had to worry about was robbers and freezing to death whilst guarding the mail coach! It doesn’t say who the unfortunate mail guard was on the night, but I don’t suppose it was my 4x great grandfather, that would be too good to be true!

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