Thursday, 29 May 2014

Museums at Night 2014 - The British Postal Museum Archive

I wrote this last year after a visit to the British Postal Museum Archive about how postcodes originated....

The British Postal Museum Archive has been a favourite place of mine for several years now...  I'm not sure whether it was a visit to their Store in Debden which started it or an evening talk at the archive itself.  The Store holds tours each month and events throughout the year and is well worth a visit.

A few weeks ago I attended a talk by Helen Kearney at the archive Search Room about the evolution of the postal map and it's importance in history.  The original postal map was drawn up by cartographer Edward Stanford in 1856 at the request of Rowland Hill and contained 10 postal districts which all bar two are still used today for the first part of your postcode.  Originally we had Northern, North Eastern, Eastern, South Eastern, Southern, South West, Western and North Western Districts.  The two that were lost were the North Eastern District and the Southern District in 1865 and 1866 respectively.

This meant that there could be daily deliveries between each District Office rather than mail coming into the centre of London and then having to be delivered out again once sorted!

The map has a radius of almost 12 miles measured from the original Central Post Office of St Martin's Le Grand very close to St Paul's Cathedral and has only slightly changed to this day.  The numbering of postal areas was a few more years in coming despite repeated attempts since 1911.  It was WW1 and the inexperienced temporary sorters that eventually meant that the District plus number system was introduced.

We learnt from Helen that the area containing the District office was always linked to number 1…N1, SW1 etc and then areas within a district were put in alphabetical order and numbered consecutively after that.  This means that two adjacent areas in a postal district could be numbered N1 and N10!

A reminder of these now disappeared postal districts can be found on a few unchanged streets signs, such as Stamford Grove West in Stamford Hill which still has NE displayed on the sign.

It was an interesting talk and a previous version can be listened to on the BPMA website.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Tower Hamlets..Introduction to Guiding Course

We are now 2 weeks or so into the Walkie Talkie.. Introduction to Guiding in Tower Hamlets course although it does seem much a good way that is!  I'm one of a group of 18 very different people all with a love of London and a thirst to find out more.

Tower Hamlets is vast and the areas it covers are diverse in nature from Docklands to Whitechapel and the new to me...Globe Town and Ratcliff.

So far we have had one classroom session learning how to put a stop together and getting to know each other and I've now been on three linked walks.

The Saturday before last it was Stepney and Limehouse with Judy Stephenson

Last Wednesday 13 of us turned up at Stepney Green Station on a tube strike day for a walk around Bethnal Green with course leader David Charnick 

Yesterday I went on another David Charnick walk around Bethnal Green but saw totally different places.  

We are all researching a different place or area within Tower Hamlets to put together a presentation at the last session....just three weeks away!

This Wednesday it's back to the classroom at the Shadwell Centre and thankfully the tube strike has been postponed this week.

I've met some great people and as you probably realise I'm really enjoying it so far!!