In 1840 Rowland Hill suggested the idea of roadside pillar boxes for use in the UK mainland. Folk at that time seemingly took their letters to the post office for posting and the postal authorities were keen to grow the communication business using modern innovations. These were pre-internet days of course but the railways were about to revolutionalise both transport of goods and mass communication.
Letter boxes were already being used in Europe of course, however there were no roadside letter boxes in the British Isles until about 1852, when the first pillar boxes were erected at St Hellier in Jersey at the recommendation of one Anthony Trollope (author of Barchester Towers and Framley Parsonage), who at the time was working as a Surveyors Clerk for the Post Office.
In 1853 the first pillar box on the UK mainland was erected at in Carlisle. A similar box from the same year still stands at Barnes Cross in Dorset and is seemingly the oldest pillar box still in use today on the mainland.
In Scotland there were protests when the first boxes made in the reign of Elizabeth II were produced. These bore the inscription “E II R” but there were objections because Queen Elizabeth is the first Queen of Scotland and of the United Kingdom to bear that name, Elizabeth I having been Queen of England only.
After several “EiiR” pillar boxes were blown up and vandalised by Scottish Nationalists protesting “No Unlimited Sovereignty for Westminster in Scotland” including one in the Scottish capital, the General Post Office (as it was at that time) had the remaining boxes North of the border replaced with ones which only bore the Crown of Scotland with no Royal cipher.
This is one such box and it sits proudly outside the main postal depot in Inverurie.
It is I think a Royal Mail (Type C) Pillar Box of 1950’s circa and is painted in that familiar Post Office Red paint unlike its Irish counterparts which are in Green or those strange metallic pillar boxes from the Greek Games of 2012.
I use it often but wonder who would want to spend their entire working day cooped up inside such a confined environment.