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English Postboxes

The traditional English pillar box

 English Pillar Box

Shown on the left is the tradional pillar box most of us recognise today. The postbox one pictured is located in a village called Bradwell, just outside Great Yarmouth. 

There are no records of the first pillar boxes erected in Britian but what is known is that the designs varied from one district to another. Each district surveyor was responsible for issuing the specifications and generally had the postboxes manufactured in a local foundry; hence the reason for the variation. The earliest pillar boxes varied a great deal, some were octagonal, some had vertical slots instaed of horizontal, others would have fluted columns or other unusual features.

 Post office archives suggest that the first postbox was erected in Carlisle circa 1853. London received six letterboxes in April Penfold Letterbox1855. Postboxes at this time still varied greatly in clour and design. In 1857 some effort was made to standardise the pillar box. A very ornate design was produced but amazingly they forgot to put a posting apature in the postbox. This slight flaw was delt with at each foundry by cutting a hole in each postbox. At this point the postboxes still varied in colour, eventually green was choosen as the standard postbox colour. The idea of this was that they would blend into the background, unfortunately it blended in a bit too well and people kept walking into them. So in 1874 it was decided that the familiar postbox red would be the choosen colour, however it took ten years before all were repainted.

In between these times designs changed several times, the most famous being the Penfold which had a total of nine variations. Shown on the right is a disused Penfold Postbox painted green.


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