I discovered a leaflet about an unusual exhibition, one that few probably have heard of but nevertheless a fascinating display of historic pictures of the Post Office.
Its not far from Kings Cross, and is located within the Lumen URC building in Tavistock Street. The church hall itself is also of great interest because of the unusual design created. What was once a 1960’s modernist church hall has been converted into an ultra-modern building. This work took place in 2007/8 and resulted in a most pleasing aesthetic design.
The exterior of the Lumen UR Church in Tavistock Place, WC1
Interior of the Lumen church with its unusual design
Now to the Post Office exhibition! Its called “The Post Office in pictures.” This was located in a side corridor of the building leading to the attractive rear gardens. The exhibition sows the images produced by the Post Office’s own photography department. This work was a mainstay of the Post Office for many years and many of the photographs were used in the Post Office magazine.
As well as being a good cross section of the daily work Post Office workers had to undertake, it also captured a good social history of Britain. The Post Office’s photography department was established in the 1930’s and lasted until the 1960s when the Post Office magazine ceased.
Many of the photographs show the difficult and somewhat bizarre places letters had to be delivered to. One of my favourites was the ‘Bucket Bridge’ near Inverness. This was a strange contraption the postal delivery worker had to use in order to access a remote part of the Scottish Highlands.
The strange ‘bucket bridge.’
The photograph of a postal worker holding various animals (mostly poultry) was of great interest. It turns out that people could at one time send dead animals through the post unpackaged – all that was needed was a neck label and the Post Office politely requested that “no liquid is likely to exude.”
Yikes! Lost, or returned, dead animals at the Post Office’s Mount Pleasant sorting office in London.
I think the exhibition was one of the more interesting I have seen for a long time, mainly because of its rather unusual perspective through the eyes of a Post Office photographer. I’ll conclude with this picture of the Post Man at Fowey in Cornwall. He had to use ferries and rowing boats to reach remote communities and this picture was taken of him before commencing these rounds.