Looking Back: Spotting lots of postal heritage in resort

George VI - Marine Road Central. Picture by David Chandler.
George VI - Marine Road Central. Picture by David Chandler.

You may have read in The Visitor (July 16) about a declaration from Royal Mail and Historic England to ‘preserve the character and heritage’ of the nation’s post boxes.

There are around 111,300 boxes in the UK, ranging from familiar pillar boxes to lamp boxes, wall boxes and a fair few historic anomalies.

Victoria - Heysham Road.  Picture by David Chandler.

Victoria - Heysham Road. Picture by David Chandler.

In fact, there have been over 150 designs across the years.

The first letter box was introduced in Jersey in 1852 and the rest of Britain soon followed, with Carlisle becoming the first mainland town to erect a box in 1853.

Early boxes were a variety of colours (mainly green), but became a standard red from 1874.

It took ten years to paint all the boxes in the country at that time.

Princes Crescent. Picture by David Chandler.

Princes Crescent. Picture by David Chandler.

The first cylindrical pillar box (the design we are familiar with today) came in 1879.

Boxes usually carry the cypher of the reigning monarch (a monogram with their initials and title, so our present Queen is shown as E II R).

So what examples of postal heritage can be seen around Morecambe?

I’ve been out and about looking to see how many different boxes I can find.

Edward VIII Scotforth. George VI. Picture by David Chandler.

Edward VIII Scotforth. George VI. Picture by David Chandler.

It will be no surprise that Elizabeth II (1952 – present) boxes are the most common, with lots of different types around the town.

The previous monarch was George VI and boxes from his reign can also be found quite easily.

These were produced 
between 1936 and 1952.

As we go further back in time we reach a real rarity.

Edward VIII was only on the throne for 11 months in 1936, so boxes produced were few and far between.

I have been unable to 
locate one in Morecambe, but there is an example in Scotforth, Lancaster. It is thought there are only around 130 in the whole of the UK, so it is something really special.

George V was on the throne from 1910-1936, a period when Morecambe was rapidly expanding, so it is not surprising that there are plenty of examples of these boxes.

A fine George V wall box can be found near Lancaster & Morecambe College.

George V boxes do not shown the Roman numeral, just the initials GR.

Boxes for Edward VII (1901-1910) can also be found in Morecambe and we have at least one featuring Queen Victoria’s cypher.

The example on Heysham Road dates from between 1887 and 1901 and is the only one I have found, but I am told there is another.

It doesn’t end there – we have an even older box in Morecambe and a rather unusual one too.

On Princes Crescent in Bare, you will find an ‘anonymous’ box.

Between 1879 and 1887 boxes did not carry a royal 
cypher (no-one knows why), so this Victorian box dates from that period.

The box was made by Andrew Handyside of Derby, who coincidentally supplied ironwork for the construction of Morecambe’s Winter Gardens!

These boxes have seen the history of our town 
unfold and remain part of its heritage.

With thanks to the Letter Box Study Group at http://www.lbsg.org/