Replica Grand Junction Railway travelling post office
- 1938; (1838)
Traveling Post Office, Grand Junction Railway, replica postal sorting van, copy of first TPO on London North Western Railway (LNWR) wagon frame, built 1938 (original 1838). Royal VR monogram painted on door sides, coach number 282693.
With the advent of the railways, the Post Office was able to vastly improve the efficiency of mail distribution. The first experimental travelling post office ran in 1838 on the Grand Junction Railway, and was a horse box converted into a sorting carriage. The experiment was successful and the travelling post office was born.
By the end of 1838 there were regular services transporting post by rail, and the Act to Provide for the Conveyance of Mails by Railways prescribed that railway companies had to carry mail at the direction of the Postmaster General.
This carriage is a replica of the first railway Post Office Van put into service in 1838. Its appearance is very similar to a contemporary road carriage. The interior is equipped with a sorting bench along half the length of one side, opposite to the net on the other side. The wall above the bench has pigeonholes for sorted mail, almost to the full height of the carriage. The rest of the wall space is taken up by hooks for mail bags.
The apparatus for picking up and dropping post at speed consisted of a chute and an extending net. Letters caught in this net were taken into the coach through a window; those dropped through the chute were sometimes damaged, so this feature was later replaced by an extending arm upon which the mailbags were hung, to be caught by a net at the lineside. The original apparatus was devised by John Ramsay of the Post Office, and although many refinements followed, all TPO vehicles were similar in concept to this one.
This replica was built at Wolverton Carriage & Wagon Works in 1938 using drawings and records from the Post Office.