History of the Post Box

History of the British Postbox

1854 Early Hexagonal Post Box. Post box in the style introduced by Anthony Trollope.

1855 Barnes Cross. An example of this box still remains at Barnes Cross in Dorset. Made by Butt & Co of Gloucester.

1856 Fluted with vertical aperture. Made original by Blaylock, iron founder, and later by W. Turner for use in Dublin. Some kept the vertical aperture, but by 1856 the horizontal posting hole was becoming more popular.

1856 Crown & Cushion with guilding. Made by Smith and Hawkes, Birmingham, they had an elongated domed roof upon which rested a crown. Only six of these were ever made because of a design interpretation fault. This resulted in the finished boxes being over 8 feet high.

1857 London Special Postbox. Highly decorative boxes made by Smith and Hawkes of Birmingham. Fifty were ordered, and thirty one were used in London.

1859 First National Standard Box. In 1859 the design of post boxes was standardised.

1859 Rochdale Box with lamp. Taken from a French idea. The original is in a local Museum in Rochdale

1859 Improved Standard Wall Box (red). Made by Smith & Hawkes this wall box had a better porch over the aperture. These boxes were introduced to rural communities whose inhabitants had previously had to wait at the roadside - in all weathers - for the arrival of the Post Office messenger.

1863 Liverpool Special. The original interior bag had been replaced in earlier boxes by a wire basket . When earlier boxes were being emptied it would draw large crowds because the mail was visible, so Cochrane and Co were commissioned to produce these new attractive boxes with the old bag system, ensuring that letters would not get wet, and could not be seen.

1866 Penfold Hexagonal. Known as the 'New Standard Letter Box' designed by J.W. Penfold and built by Cochrane in Birmingham. Examples of these can be seen in Pulteney Street, and Laura Place, Bath.

1887 Aperture in Door. Post box design had been geared to smaller Victorian envelopes. As the size of envelopes increased larger apertures became necessary.

1896 Lamp Letter Box. Residents in London's squares were campaigning for posting facilities within their squares, and so these small boxes began to be attached to lamp posts since walls were not often available for use. Later lamp boxes began to be fitted in rural areas.

1930 - 38 Blue Air Mail Box. Special airmail boxes in blue were placed at important sites. They only lasted for eight years because rapid expansion of the air service to Europe and the British Empire, made them redundant. One can still be seen outside Windsor Castle.

1936 Edward VIII. Pillar box with Post Office sign on top

1958 Double Aperture. This box was introduced in 1899 when six experimental boxes were tried out in London. Each aperture was marked 'Town' and 'Country'. In 1905 this scheme was extended to the provinces, but they became popular around 1960 when there were 309 in service. There were 200 in London alone.

1980 Modern Postbox. Constructed from impact-resistant cast iron. Modern design with rotary dial indicator indicating next collection. Suitable for new housing development areas.

1998 Central pole mounted postbox. Constructed from impact-resistant iron. Mainly suitable for rural areas. The box has a rotary dial indicator to show next collection.