Royal Mail
Royal Mail
On 1 May 1840, the first stamps went on sale in Britain and over the years the sending and delivery of letters and parcels has continued to grow as the Post Office has provided an essential public service. Despite its difficulties the Post Office has always found new and innovative ways of ensuring that the demands of its customers are met, by a combination of road, rail, and air transport, supported with new technology.

The Postal Service really is 'The Real Network'.

Photo: Twin oval pillar boxes © Light Straw Archive Jan 2011
| EXIT | Overview | Organisation | Post Office Ltd | Stamps and First Day Covers | Postage |  
| Post Boxes | Moving the Mail: By Road | By Rail | Telegrams |

In the 20th century, the Post Office was the controlling organisation with responsibility for delivering the mail and serving the public over the counter. In the 21st century, Royal Mail Group was privatised although the counter's business (Post Office Ltd) continues to be owned by the Government.

Royal Mail Organisation

Up to 2013 the Royal Mail Group comprised predominantly of the letter delivery network (Royal Mail), a parcel delivery network (Parcel Force Worldwide) and the counter service network (Post Office).

Royal Mail 
Royal Mail
  • Royal Mail - The Letter Delivery Network
  • Parcel Force Worldwide - The Parcel Delivery Network
Post Office Ltd
Post Office
  • Post Office - The Counter Service Network
On 1st April 2012, Post Office Limited was demerged from Royal Mail Group, now reporting directly to the Government. [See more history]

On 15th October 2013 Royal Mail was floated on the Stock Market, though the Government initially retained a 30% stake via the Postal Services Holdings Company plc. The Government's remaining shares were sold on 12th October 2015, making the Royal Mail entirely in private ownership.

The current businesses can be found at | | | |

[Royal Mail, the Royal Mail cruciform and Parcelforce Worldwide are registered trade marks of Royal Mail Group plc in the United Kingdom and other countries. The Post Office symbol is a trade mark of Post Office Ltd.]

Stamps and First Day Covers

In the past, stamps were only sold in Post Offices, or from vending machines outside. Nowadays, books of self-adhesive stamps for first or second class mail can be bought in many shops.

Scan: Booklet of stamps from 2000.
First Day Covers
First Day Covers and Stamps
First Day Covers are produced (as collectors' items) for the first time a particular stamp is issued.

Image: 'first' - A Royal Mail stamps flyer advertising forthcoming 'First Day Covers'.

From the 21st August 2006 the pricing for letters and packets changed to include size, weight and thickness. This led to the introduction of two new stamps, '1st class Large' and '2nd class Large' for oversized letters.

Date Ist Class
standard letter (100g)
2nd Class
standard letter (100g)
30th April 2004 28p 20p
Size Guide
Click on image for more details.
May 2004 28p 21p
April 2005 30p 21p
April 2006 32p 23p
2nd April 2007 34p 24p
6th April 2009 39p 30p
6th April 2010 41p 32p
4th April 2011 46p 36p
30th April 2012 60p 50p
2nd April 2013 60p 50p  
31st March 2014 62p 53p  
30th March 2015 63p 54p  
29th March 2016 64p 55p  
27th March 2017 65p 56p  
26th March 2018 67p 58p  
25th March 2019 70p 61p  
23rd March 2020 76p 65p  
1st January 2021 85p 66p  

GPO telegrams were once the quickest way to send an important message.

Book: Bringers of Good Tidings, with illustrations by Edward Ardizzone.
Moving the Mail

Mail by Rail
Mail by Rail
Mail by Rail looks at the TPOs (Travelling Post Offices) and Mail Rail, the Post Office Railway under the streets of London...

Photo:Travelling Post Office at Nene Valley Railway © Light Straw July 2009.
Mail by Road  
Mail by Road
Mail by Road  - A detailed study of Royal Mail vehicles through the ages...

Photo: DAF trucks located in a typical DO (Delivery Office) © Light Straw Feb 2010.
Post Boxes  
Post Boxes
These Post Office pages would not be complete without a brief study of post boxes ...

Photo: 'GR Letters Only' post box at Amberley Museum © Light Straw April 2010.
Design, images and text compiled by © Light-Straw. Page last updated 22 May 2021.

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