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A Postman's Lot

Compilation of Villager's accounts.

Cycling Duties - Circular to Surveyors, March 1909 - Post Office Archives

The Cycling Postman


A village postman in 1891. Collection of Sadie Cole

"Postmen employed on cycling work should be strongly recommended to wear woollen vests and drawers, and opportunity should, when possible, be afforded to men who get wet to change their clothes..." 

Cycling Duties - Circular to Surveyors, March 1909

Source: Post Office Archives

In Kingston Bagpuize, Mr King delivered the post at the turn of the 20th century, cycling out from collecting the post at Abingdon and changing his clothes if wet, in the little wooden hut on his allotment when he arrived in Kingston Bagpuize.~Mrs Sutton

Source: Excerpt from KBS News -  Richard Cox added in March 1974.

Mr King continued well into the [19]20s and on one occasion had to be rescued on his return journey to Abingdon during a heavy snowstorm. As the mail increased so a delivery had to be made twice a day, and the hut and the allotment was given up. The postman then called at a Mrs Griffin's who lived in a cottage opposite Heath House for rest and refreshment. As for the hut, this was wooden inside, corrugated tin outside; with a rear lean-to for cycles. My father offered the Post Office £1 for it and to his surprise this was accepted. As I was supposed to be delicate, the hut was moved to our house in Hanney Road, and I slept in it for several years with both window and door open. If only people had known how frightened I was. Later the hut was moved to our farm just past the Willett estate and many Land Army girls used it during the war. Later two of our staff married and because of the housing shortage lived in it for some time. Regrettably the hut was destroyed by fire a short time ago. ~Richard Cox

In days gone by the postman had to walk everywhere when delivering his post. So covering rural areas meant walking to all the outlying farms and villages in his patch. In winter time he could be snowed in. People would put him up for the night. Families were large then and most cottages had two only bedroooms, so the postman would have had to make do with the sofa or the floor. The postman's duties included delivering the mail, emptying the letter boxes and then cycling back to Abingdon. If people lived far from a post office, they would wait for the postie to arrive and purchase stamps from him. When posting a letter without the stamp when in a hurry, folk would leave the money in the postbox.

In the late 1940s during the school holidays, my brother worked over the Christmas period as a sorter and postman. We kept Christmas dinner one day when he was late, as they had to work on Christmas day then. My brother writes below. [J.M.]

The Christmas Post

When we lived in South Wales, I got a job with the Post Office for the school Christmas holidays. At that time they always took on temporary staff to clear the Christmas post. Unfortunately they even worked on Christmas day to ensure all the cards were delivered.

I recall in about 1952 I went out on a snowy Christmas day after a quick look at my presents. This was usually our last working day as the level of mail reduced after Christmas and the permanent staff were able to cope. The form was to knock at each door with the post rather than putting it directly in the letterbox so you could personally wish them 'Happy Christmas' and hopefully get a tip. It worked fairly well. I know our Mum delayed our Christmas dinner until I finished my shift early afternoon.

I should add that we had to sort the post first into the area covered and in house order.

~ David Knight