After a couple of questions yesterday about one of my pictures in my weekly photo challenge entry, I decided I would enlighten everyone about this rather unique object in British post: the blue post box!
On 9th September 1911, Gustav Hamel took off from Hendon Aerodrome in his frail Bleriot monoplane to inaugerate the first United Kingdom aerial post and landed in Shaw Farm meadow, Long Walk, Windsor. The flight was organised to carry special mail celebrating the coronation of King George V.
Within a few years, Air Mail services became well established and between 1930 and 1938, special blue pillar boxes like this commemorative one were used for posting Air Letters. This box is adjacent to the site of Windsor Post Office (1887-1966) where Air Mail was received from the United Kingdom aerial post.”
So, there you have it! The blue boxes were introduced to distinguish the air mail, and so the boxes were painted blue (in line with the RAF colours). They were used right up until the outbreak of world war two, at which point the service was suspended. When the war was over, they decided to roll both posts into one, and so the blue post boxes were no longer used.
As the information leaflet suggests, this blue box in Windsor is commemorative only, being the place where the first plane with airmail landed! However, blue post boxes soon popped up everywhere, and there were well over 100 in London alone.
But Britain is no stranger to different coloured post boxes! The original colour for the post box was not red, but green – it was believed that they would not intrude on the landscape. Alas, they seemed to be too unobtrusive, and people were unable to find them! The boxes almost became chocolate brown after that, until the Post Office finally decided on the bright red that we all see today. And for all fans of the Olympics, you will know that all medal winners had their hometown post box painted gold!
So there’s a brief history lesson – there’s a lovely related story at The British Postal Museum & Archive blog, and the blog itself is great for any postal history buffs!
Until next time …