Did you know that in the 1930s, game was allowed to be sent through the post with nothing but a neck label?
The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) is proud to present The Post Office in Pictures, a new exhibition showcasing iconic photographs from its collection, some of which have never previously been seen by the public, complimented by an art installation with a contemporary twist inspired by the archive images by local artists from Artsite Ltd.
The exhibition is available is free to view at Swindon’s former town centre post office, now the Post Modern Gallery in Theatre Square from 6 October to 5 November.
See details of special events taking place on 12, 26 and 27 October below.
From strange creatures sent through the post, to the daily deliveries by land, sea and air to every corner of the country – the photos featured cover some of the more unusual and unexpected activities of the Post Office and its people.
Local artists from Artsite Ltd. will provide a contemporary twist with an art installation inspired by the archive images.
Pictured, top: Mount Pleasant Parcel Office – Returned Parcels Section. A postman stands in front of a table displaying items from the Returned Parcels Section. He is holding dead hares in one hand, dead birds in the other and a tin tucked under his arm, 1938
Middle, the Mayor of Swindon Ray Ballman opening the exhibition with Adrian Steel, director of the British Postal Museum & Archive.
Bottom: Delivering to the more remote parts of the country!
The exhibition has its origins in 1934, when the General Post Office (GPO) established its Public Relations Department. Headed by the entrepreneurial Sir Stephen Tallents, the department’s aim was to promote good relations with the public, to provide guidance on using postal services, and to gather and interpret customer feedback to help shape the work of the GPO.
Photography was one of the key tools used by the PR Department to reach and engage with the general public. In order to supply its fledgling Post Office Magazine with professionally-produced photographs, Tallents secured the services of skilled photographers from the Engineer-in-Chief’s Department. Members of the GPO Photographic Unit began to accompany the magazine’s journalists, creating visually appealing, informative and often humorous articles about daily life in Britain.
The Post Office Magazine was published for staff and the general public alike, between 1934 and 1966. From remote regions to the industrial heartland of the country, it showed the General Post Office (GPO) doing what it did best – serving the nation in times of need and in times of leisure; through new and expanding services such as Air Mail, to the more traditional services provided by cheerful, efficient, and ever-present postmen.
Andy Richmond, Exhibitions Manager commented: “The Post Office was once Britain’s largest employer and the BPMA are proud to put part of their unique collection of photographs on show to the public, demonstrating the importance of the ‘postie’ in everyone’s lives”.
Swindon Counci’s head of culture Helen Mian said she was delighted that the BPMA had chosen the town. "When I heard about Andy’s proposal, I could not resist an exhibition about the history of the post office in Swindon’s former post office. It looks absolutely beautiful; I just love the images placed against cardboard, a simple effect that puts the focus on the image. I would encourage everybody to make a visit to the Post Modern to look at iconic pictures of what Britain was like once."
Wednesday 12 October, 6pm to 8pm
Join us for an evening exploring crafty connections between the photographs on display. Enjoy a glass of wine, see practical demonstrations, and then have a go at making something yourself.
The Post Office in Pictures Family Fun Days. Drop in – no booking necessary
Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 October, 11am to 4pm
Come to The Post Office in Pictures during half-term for a host of free family activities.
Put yourself in the picture and create your own magazine front cover with you as the star!
Create your own finger Puppet Postmen, and why not bring along your camera to the fun day and take part in our photographic scavenger hunt? The fastest family over the two days will win a fantastic prize!
www.postalheritage.org.uk/inpictures for more information