The meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Chairman Richard Wright advising of four apologies. He mentioned the Christmas Lunch, where a charitable collection is traditionally made and asked for suggestions from members as to which cause(s) should be supported.
Secretary Neil Ramshaw updated members with details of next weeks Open Meeting (Medecins Sans Frontieres) and also about Members Morning on February 11th 2020 and the need for volunteers to speak for 10/15 minutes on a topic of their choice. Members who felt able to do a full talk for 55/60 minutes and would like to be included in next season’s Programme were asked to make the Secretary aware.
Today saw the first appearance of Canon Roger Dedman with his talk “The Rise of the Post Office”. His subject consisted, in the main, of the Postal History of Great Britain and Ireland up until the 20th century. As befits his office he started with a biblical reference from the book of Esther regarding communication to 127 provinces by mounted carriers on horseback. He also advised that under the Roman Empire effecting a communication from York to Rome (1,000 miles) was achieved in five days including the Channel crossing.
Roger then took us through the early days of our postal history starting in 1516 with Henry VIII establishing the Master of the Post. In 1635 Charles I extended use of the Royal Mail and opened it to the public with charges. 1657 saw the first Post Office and the formation of the G.P.O. He talked to us about early systems for tracking postal delays; how the postal system required good roads which saw the introduction of turnpikes and the period of horse drawn Mail Coaches from 1784-1846. As communication links improved so did the Postal System and it expanded to all parts of the United Kingdom although charges initially were expensive. We heard about Sir Rowland Hill who reformed the Postal System and introduced the concept of Universal Penny Post in the late 1830’s/early 1840. Another postal reformer was Ralph Allen responsible for Crosspost. Roger detailed the involvement of the Railways in the Postal System and also Shipping (Steam Packet Companies). Post Boxes were first introduced in 1857 into St. Helier Jersey and other developments would follow e.g. Post Office Savings Bank, Telegraphs and in 1897 Delivery to every house!!
The talk was fascinating, detailed and supported with excellent visual representations. A number of Postal scrap books had been circulated amongst the audience prior to the talk.
Questions were asked as the talk concluded and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty seven appreciative attendees was given by Peter Belton.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY.