Amazing Images Released of How Royal Mail Post-Boxes Are Made
Postboxes are so often spotted in our cities and towns that we rarely hail them as feats of craftsmanship. But these pictures show the skilled work that goes into creating a British icon.
The classic pillar-box has rarely changed in the 160 years since they were introduced as a modern experiment in the Channel Islands in 1852.
In fact, the most recent alteration to the roadside pillar box has not been in its design, but in its status – post boxes are now private property after last month’s sell off of the Royal Mail.
The men and women responsible for shaping the country’s most familiar roadside fixture work for Machan Engineering in Denny, Scotland.
Machan manufactures all the post boxes for the Royal Mail in the UK, and has done for over twenty years.
They shape the cast iron structures to order, making both the classic pillar-box and also wall boxes that are placed into the side of buildings.
The famous receptacles are moulded before being shaped and welded together in the company’s workshop just outside Falkirk.
They are then given the famous lick of red paint that makes them the most famous of British street furniture.
The post boxes came into the hands of shareholders earlier this month when Royal Mail was privatized.
Initial share prices of 330p rocketed after the sell off, their current worth is 540p. That steep rise led to criticism of the government for selling the historic mail service too cheaply.
Post boxes were first places on our streets after the famous novelist Anthony Trollope, who once worked as a Surveyor’s Clerk at the Post Office, suggested to his bosses that Britain needed fixtures similar to those he had seen on French and Belgian streets.
In 1952, the state owned service agreed to trail three cast-iron pillar boxes on Jersey. Later that year a further four were introduced on Guernsey.
The first trial was considered a success and boxes began appearing on the British mainland from 1853, but it was not for another five years that a standard design began to emerge with local authorities agreeing on the most practical shape for ease of use and keeping out rain.
Post boxes got their famous colour after a certain amount of trial and error.
The earliest boxes were green so as not to be an eyesore in the landscape, but they were so effective that the Post Office was flooded with complaints from people who could not find their local drop off point.
The next incarnation of the boxes were chocolate brown, but these were more expensive to upkeep so, eventually, in 1874, it was agreed that the standard colour of the postbox should be red.
There are few exceptions to the famous colouring. Most recently in 2012, it was agreed that the local postboxes of victorious British athletes at London 2012 would have their postboxes painted red.
That saw the more than 100 pillar boxes across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales turn gold in recognition of Team GB’s record breaking summer.