8th February 1853
Guernsey gets its first postbox
Guernsey’s very first postbox, in Union Street, St Peter Port, remains in use to this day. It’s the only one on the island never to have been painted blue since its installation in 1853, by which point Guernsey Post Office was already 60 years old.
The Channel Islands were something of a proving ground for the concept of post boxes. Credit for their introduction must go to the author Anthony Trollope, who was a post office surveyor at the time. He had seen “a letter receiving pillar” in use during a trip to France and was keen to introduce something similar to Britain.
Time and tide
The Channel Islands had a peculiar problem where post was concerned. Various dispatch points around the island would take letters and pass them to the mail ships for transport to the mainland. The trouble was, with the ships relying on the tide and weather, the collection time would be different every day. Nobody could quite be sure whether they’d missed the cut-off.
The pillar box seemed to be the ideal solution. Once installed, the public could use it to deposit their letters whenever was convenient. They’d then be collected as a batch and sent on whichever boat left next, whenever that should be.
The first boxes were made and installed on Jersey in November 1852. Further boxes were cast there and shipped to Guernsey for installation in February 1853. They proved to be such a success that they were subsequently rolled out across the British Isles and beyond.
The world’s oldest postbox
Although Guernsey wasn’t the first place to use a post box, it does have the oldest post box still in use – and to have been used continuously since its installation – in the world. Every other postbox on the planet has been replaced or removed at some interim point.
Another of Guernsey’s original pillar boxes had been relocated to the British Postal Museum in London.