The Royal Mail started life in 1516 by King Henry VIII’s ‘Master of the Posts’ Sir Brian Tuke. (This role later became Postmaster General). The service which was used for the transportation of important documents of state, was extended to allow the public to send letters in 1635. It was very expensive and the cost was paid by the recipient, so generally only used by nobility and gentry. The word ‘post’ originates from the delivery system used. Mail was transported in a relay of horseback riders who were posted at set intervals along the road.
In 1840 the world first adhesive postal stamp, the penny black was launched. This now affordable postal fee meant that the numbers of letters posted increased from Sixty-Seven million in 1839 to One Billion in 1875.
Anthony Trollope started working for the post office in 1834 in London. He transferred to Ireland, and started writing during his long train journeys around Ireland. As a writer he felt he needed be closer to London and moved to Waltham House in Waltham Cross in 1859. Waltham House was demolished and a number of shops and the Moon and Cross public house now stand on the site. Whilst working as a surveyor for the Post Office he introduced the pillar box (the free-standing post box) to England in 1855 following a trial in the Channel Islands. Starting originally with five sage green boxes in London they were changed to the iconic bright red in 1874 to make them more visible. Before this new invention post would need to bet taken to a post receiving house (an early post- office) or given to ‘The Bellman’ who walked the streets collecting post.
Parcel post was introduced in 1883 and the delivery men had their name changed from ‘letter carriers’ to ‘Postmen’
During the First World War, with so many men away fighting, women were recruited to deliver the ever increasing amount of letters and parcels. Postmen had worn uniforms since 1793, but with so many women now joining the service a new uniform for them was introduced in 1915.
The system of postcodes was introduced in 1959 and used by all of Britain by 1974.
In the 2012 Olympics Local girl Laura Trott made history when she became the First British women to win 4 gold Olympic medals. In her honour the post box at Cheshunt Old Pond was painted gold.