Web Page No 2308
15th October 2016
Top Picture: Typical British Postman of the 1960s
Second Picture: London parcels sorting office 1950s
Third Picture: The most famous 1960s postman Alan Smethurst
Wait a Minute Mr Postman
It was about this time of year in the early 1960s that our minds turned to Christmas employment. As I have mentioned before I regularly worked for Bob Fraser in his electrical shop in Drayton but Christmas was the time when a senior pupil or student could earn really big money and that meant the Christmas deliveries at the Post Office.
At that time the GPO took on many students as temporary postmen to get them over the Christmas rush. As far as we were concerned the rush started in October to get the application forms filled in and submitted as these jobs were very popular. There were only a few criteria to become a temporary postman, first you had to be over 16, second you needed three independent references and thirdly you could not have a criminal record.
I was lucky and managed to get a job three Christmases running, the first whilst I was still in the sixth year at school and the other two whilst I was a student in Portsmouth. For most of us this was our very first experience of full time industrial employment and we soon learnt that this meant being on time and doing your job.
Our starting time was 6.00am and luckily a bus went passed my front door at 5.40 and with only a 10 minute run into Cosham this meant that I could arrive warm and dry in time to start work in the Cosham sorting office behind the main Post Office. I really did not fancy riding my bike at that hour of the morning.
The first year that I worked I was assigned a letter round, known as a walk, around Paulsgrove and the second two years I had an easy time of it as I was given parcel deliveries in Drayton and Farlington, home ground to me!
On arrival and buckling on the temporary postman arm band we made our way to the sorting area. For those of us on letters this meant standing behind a sorting rack, making sure all the letters were the right way round (this made things much easier when out on the delivery) and then sorting them into roads and numbers. Having done this the packs of letters were tied with string (no rubber bands then) and placed into the delivery sack in the reverse order so they came out right when delivering. If you were assigned to parcels the routine was very similar except much larger as all the parcels and packets had to be sorted into specific bags which were then tied up and placed, as before in reverse order.
Then came breakfast when most of the sorting office descended on works canteen for a traditional English Breakfast and a mug of tea. Having been fed it was out into the cold to deliver our letters and parcels.
If you were on a walk some way from the Sorting Office there was no transport laid on and you were expected to either was to your area or catch a bus. Some conductors on the bus were friendly and would welcome you aboard and make a place for your delivery bag under the stairs and would turn a blind eye to the fare, but some were not so friendly and the poor old posty had to sit on the bus cuddling the sack and pay for the privilege!
Once out on the walk we were told that we were never to accept tips as these were intended for the regular postman and not for us. Most people abided by these rules but one or did not and got very short shrift from the regular postman if they found out. Luckily I was never put in this position. The return was easier as the sack was empty and the buses less crowded.
If rostered on the parcels run life was much easier. After breakfast we loaded a hired furniture van with sacks of parcels and off we went with two or three of us casuals riding in the back (something not allowed today). Once at the delivery site it was off the van and the regular postman would get on and undo the bags and supervise us while we delivered the various parcels and packets. It never failed to amaze me how many women would answer the door at that house of the morning in their nighties or lingerie, it cheered a young lads morning I can tell you.
Once the first delivery was over it was back to the sorting office for a hot cup of tea and a meat pie and then it was left up to us as to what we did next. We could clock off and go home and catch up on our sleep or take an hours break and sign on for overtime for the second delivery.
But all this has gone, I cannot remember when I last saw a temporary post man probably about the same time as I last saw a Telegram Boy!
Keep in touch
On this day 15th October 1960-1965
On 15/10/1960 the number one single was Tell Laura I Love Her - Ricky Valance. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspurs were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was No Hiding Place (AR).
On 15/10/1961 the number one single was Michael - The Highwaymen and the number one album was The Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 15/10/1962 the number one single was Telstar - The Tornadoes and the number one album was Best of Ball Barber & Bilk. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 15/10/1963 the number one single was Do You Love Me? - Brian Poole & the Tremoloes and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 15/10/1964 the number one single was Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 15/10/1965 the number one single was Tears - Ken Dodd and the number one album was Help - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.