Thursday 21 December 2017
Checking The Mails
The picture above from an Evening Standard feature on past times is of London Bridge Station, but it could have been almost any railway station at the time. It is the mail bags during the Christmas rush of 1928 waiting to be loaded. This would not have been the only time in the day when this could have been seen.
In the mid 1950's when I was putting in time and overtime on the railways it was the same and by then had been the case for a century or more. This could be a long post telling all about it. There was all the manual labour involved, the coming and going, and the way the mail was routed, often not the obvious ways.
We assumed at the time that this was the most efficient way of doing things and our Royal Mail set the standard for the world. Foreigners would visit and wonder at the complexity of it all and the high standards achieved. I hoped that this practical experience plus education could allow me an office job and after a decade or three a position in management.
I was turned down for having a sense of humour that did not fit the decorum and politeness expected. What none realised that all was about to change. The Royal Mail began to take to the roads which meant extensive restructuring. The railways shrank. Managers came in who were not of The Mail but of "business", whatever that was.
What none of us began to think or even crossed the threshold of our minds was that all this electrical kit and messaging gear could begin to impact on the mails and that in a relatively short time the Royal Mail would be just another delivery firm, one among many, better than some, worse than others.
At least on the railway platforms passengers no long have to put up with sweaty gangs of men making questionable jokes as they heave the bags about.