We were in Edinburgh for last week's Sunday Snap having a look at the writers' café The Elephant House. I asked which famous author spent time in there penning her tales of a boy wizard and the answer was
For this week we are celebrating 500 years of the Royal Mail. In 1516 Henry VIII established a postal system and with it the job of 'Master of the Post'. In later years this position was known as 'Postmaster General'. Until 1635 it was used solely for royal matters but Charles I opened it up to the public. A person could send a letter but the carriage was paid for by the recipient. At first the postal system was run by individuals given the contract to run the postal monopoly. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 Charles II set up the General Post Office (GPO). Over the years the postal system became inefficient and subject to corruption and abuse.
In the 1830s the Post Office administrator pictured above published a report entitled Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability. This recommended a standard postage rate for all letters regardless of their destination in the UK. Until then the postage rate was often decided by the postman delivering the letter. It was also suggested that official pre-printed envelopes and adhesive postage stamps could be introduced as a means of pre-payment. The current system meant that often the recipient was often unable to afford to pay for the letter. Some letters contained code on the envelope which meant the recipient was able to receive the message by looking at the envelope and then refusing to pay the postage.
On 10th January 1840 an Uniform Penny Post was introduced with all letters weighing half an ounce or less costing one penny regardless of where in the UK they were sent. Previously a charge of at least four pence would have been made. For letters weighing between half an ounce and one ounce the cost went up to two pence and so on. Later that year on 1st May the world's first adhesive postage stamp, known as the Penny Black, was issued. Although the introduction of the Uniform Penny Post was a financial disaster – it took 30 years for revenues to recover to their pre-1840 level – the introduction of an universal system allowed the development of education, transport links, business and social cohesion.
What is the name of the postal reformer?
We were joined last week by Susan who was trying to get to grips with the crazy weather. Jack and Noah have been showing off their love for Maisey the dog. There was some tree hugging in the park with Jo's lot. Sue was sharing with us her recipe for meatloaf. It was eyes down for Cheryl. Finally, in New Zealand Betty was enjoying the autumn dahlias.
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