General Post Office
Charles II established the General Post Office in 1660. A year after its formation, the first postage date stamp was used and the office appointed its first overseer: Henry Bishop.1 It was not until 1793, over 100 years later, that uniformed postmen first took to the street. In 1829, the first-purpose-built mail facility was put into operation at St. Martin's Le Grand EC2.2
Sir Rowland Hill's invention of the adhesive postage stamp in 1837 was a key moment for the GPO, as it aided in the creation of the Penny Black Stamp three years later. This stamp enabled sending posts anywhere in the world, such as the one seen from an Ordinance by Musgrave who notes that all documents of title shall be transmitted by the Magistrate, through the GPO.3 The Penny Black Stamp also led to the introduction of the Post Office pillar box in 1852.
In 1868, the military became linked to the GPO through the 49th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps, (known as the “Post Office Rifles”), which consisted of GPO employees.4 This corps played a large role during the First World War. At the outbreak of war in 1914, the GPO employed 250,000 people, a quarter of which were enlisted in the army. There were also 35,000 women who were employed in “temporary positions” throughout WWI.5 The GPO played a pivotal role in maintaining communications throughout the war.
The GPO's postal distribution efficiency increased in 1974 with the creation of postal codes. Today the GPO is known at the Post Office Ltd.6
  • 1. A short history of the Post Office, The History Press.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.; A. Musgrave, The Land Registry Ordinance, (Government Printing Office: Victoria, BC, 1870), p.5.
  • 4. A short history of the Post Office.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
Mentions of this organization in the documents
People in this document

Hill, Rowland

Musgrave, Anthony