I am contacting you on behalf of my father Terrence Dennis Hardy, born 18th January 1927, in response to an advert in our local paper.
He became a telegraph boy at West Central District Office on 16th April 1941, hat badge No 115 on a starting pay of 16/, until he was conscriped. Four years of tired feet, but four years of unforgetable memories and experiences. The bombing and fires in London the overseas troops and maltese families in different hotels. The arrival of the American forces. Where shall I start?
He has not seen the Web site yet, but I will bring him to the Library to see it as I am sure he will find it very interesting.
hi keith we had the same system up here in liverpool, the college we attended had all the everton and liverpool apprentices here as well, also all the police cadets attended, what a bunch of hooligans the whole lot were
all we did was fool about all year and at the end of term we were told we would get an assessment to show our employers, well you can imagine the panic and regret, anyway , that turned out to be a load of baloney as well as we all got good reports
i was so bad in one class the tutor nicknamed me duffy after the hooligan in the comedy please sir
Hi Keith, I had to attend college once a week in the city of London. I too don't remember learning anything but I do remember seeing the film Cat Balou with Lee Marvin and also Bonnie & Clyde. I was too easily influenced by the Whitechapel Bantam messengers who said that as soon as you turned 16 you could leave the day release scheme with a letter from your parents. This is what I did and lost the opportunity of another year and a halfs worth of day release. You tend to do stupid things at that age I guess. Still, what it does show is that I certainly enjoyed my messenger boy days, to want to work instead of go to school. Rick. 1970-1972 London EC2
I wonder if any boy messenger can remember going to Bourneville College one day a week between the ages of 15 to 16. I do not remember learning anything, but they did like to keep us fit. The day consisted of playing cricket, cross country running around Row Heath Park. And to finish off the day swimming in the Cadbury's swimming pool. In those days for what ever reason you were not allowed to wear swimming trunks, a bit embarrassing, but it was the same for everyone.
I was looking at the Birmingham Evening Mail to-night Tuesday (6th November 2007) and came across your item about all us ex messenger boys. My name is Roy Farley and I was a messenger from 1952 until 1955. From 1953 I was at Hockley DO and the picture you showed in the item I'm sure was a photo taken by a Les Lancaster, (the lank) in the Post Office yard at Hockley. I know nearly all of the messengers in the photo, is there any way you could send me a copy of the picture?.
I understand there have been some re-union get togethers unfortunately I have missed them.
Nice to know there are some of us still out there. Yours
Hi, I started as what was called a Young Postman, the new name for messenger boy. That was back in 1970 at age 15 when the old GPO had just become The Post Office Corporation. I was recruited at King Edward Building EC1 or Headquarters as it was known, and sent to work at Tenter House Moorgate EC2 as a foot messenger and internal office collection and delivery. After about a year our department was moved to Euston Towers in NW1 I became a Postman when I reached 18 and went to Plaistow sorting office E13 for 5 years with a short spell at NDO for PHG training. I didn't go much on that and returned to East London until transfering to Dunmow in Essex. I transferred again to Braintree and eventually to Halstead in deepest North Essex and have been there for the last 28 years. All the best.
I joined the PO as a telegram boy in 1946. It was nearly my finish. Anyone who knew the winter of 46/47 will know what I am talking about. It was a winter I will never forget. I joined in Driffield East Yks.a very rural area which did not have motor cycles. On foot or on bicycle with an area of about 6 miles radious.We delivered telegrams to people who were being informed that the weather was so bad they could not get through. I wonder what they thought we were doing. I remember one day when the snow was too deep to use bicycles so it was on foot. After 3 6 mile trips I was at the end and the Head Postmaster took pity on me and sent the rest out by van. I think I earned �1.10.00 per week in those days which was not bad for a 14 year old.As a Post Office employer we were respected for the work we did and we had to earn that respect. Dressed correctly and inspected at the start of every shift. Brasses polished and boots polished or else.One of our boys was sent home because his shirt was not completely white and the time was deducted from his pay. Just a little of how it was in 1946. regards A Ayto
Telegram Messenger Boys Life in the 1940's at Grimsby Head Post Office
Robinson, Tibby Watson, tan Doughty, Jim Turner
Higher Grade Postmen
Herbert Motley, Jim Rothwell
Brian Hunter, Gordon Brown, Terry Arnold, Peter Bass, Ernest Whitby, Charles Barker, David Sparks, Geoffrey White, Peter Groce, David Hill, Sydney Oglesby, Derek Machon ( a refugee from the Channel Isles ) Norman Drewery, Douglas Aisthorp, Byron and Roy Leonard, Gordon Parker
Conditions of service .
Must be 14 years . Wages 12 shillings and sixpence per week Hours varied 7-30 � 15-30 earliest and 12-00 � 20-00 late shift One Sunday morning per month Free medical and dental service. Sick pay and holidays with pay Pensions and gratuity upon retirement Compulsory attendance Wintringham Grammar School Eleanor Street Peterbrough Monday and Tuesday evening 19-00 � 21-00
Uniform Supplied included
Hat � tunic � trousers � boots � gaiters � gloves � overcoat � cycling cape (oilskin) Leather belt and pouch Belt and pouch to be polished with black boot polish, cap badge , tunic buttons and belt buckle polished with Brasso
To deliver telegrams (and accept replies) by cycle or foot over an area from the Grimsby Head Post Office in the town centre to Suggits Lane , Old Clee, Louth Road, Waltham Road, Bradley x Roads Great Coates Road, Pyewipe, CleethorpeRoad. Thursday afternoon due to the village post offices closing the area was extended to cover as far as East Ravendale, Healing, Laceby.
The Messengers room was situated to the rear of the sorting office yard in Osborne Street and consisted of two rooms. The main room had a long wooden table and forms to sit on and a desk for the Inspector. The second room contained a sink and taps and a personal steel locker for each messenger.
The day�s work began an inspection of your uniform and then waited to be Called . The telegrams would arrive by pneumatic tube from the Telegraph Room on the third floor to the Inspectors desk. He would sort them into areas and then call the messengers by his number ( I was T41 ) Each Telegram had a serial number which was entered on a docket headed with your number. The time of departure was noted and the expected time of return. This was done so often that any journey could be calculated to within 10 minutes. If you failed to return on time then an explanation was shown on your docket . The usual excuses were not that you had stopped off to look round wollies or what films were on at the Tower but that you had to await for a reply or the person was not at home and you had to leave a form to say you would call back or the old favourite you had had a puncture. This was the best excuse as we all carried pins behind our tunic lapels.
If the person who received the telegram wished to send a reply they would be given a blank telegram form and you would calculate the cost of the message. It was something like a penny a word including the address. You would then take the reply and the cost to the nearest telegraph post office hand it in and pay the charge. If you made an error and it cost more, then you could either go back or pay the difference out of your own pocket. If you had overcharged then in theory you should return the difference. As the amount involved was small then it was swings and roundabouts. If the telegram were to a trawler which was usually sent via Aberdeen or Wick Radio Station or was to an overseas address the cost was higher. So more care was taken in the charging.
I recall there was a stockbroker opposite the Head Post Office who had many priority telegrams and these were usually delivered within 10 minutes of their acceptance in London. The variety of the messages were many ranging from the bad news such as missing in action, killed whilst on active service, lost at sea, relatives dying, serious illnesses and P.O.W.S There was also a delivery to the Fleet Mail Office (HMS Beaver) situated at the Basin of the Docks. This meant passing the policeman at the entrance who sometimes would ask to see your identity pass but usually we biked through just waving it at him. There was also a Home Guard on duty at the Telephone Exchange and if you had to go there you rang the bell at the gate and he would turn out and demand to see your pass before he would let you in.
I often wondered how he could think any little 14 year old could be a Nazi Stormtrooper in disguise but he always wanted to see your pass.
We also had to deliver messages to merchant ships in dock and if they were neutral then it was a good thing as you nearly always got a good tip and sometimes chocolate.
This delivery was difficult in the dark winter nights. You had first to find the ship. Although the address was given as say, North side Alexandra dock it might have moved so you would have to go back to the Portmasters Office at the Cleethorpe Road railway crossing to find where it was.
It was a bit scary cycling through the docks in the dark with only half shielded cycle lamp due to blackout regulations and very difficult to spot the name of the ship if it was unladen and high out of the water. When you eventually found it then the most common means of boarding was a ladder and in the dark on a frosty night with no one around it was a little frightening. It never occurred to me that a slip off the ladder would cause you to fall into the dock and unlikely that anyone would hear your shouts. Once on board you had to search for the galley for the night watchman and he was usually asleep. You would give him the telegram, he would open it, grunt and you would ask was there a reply hoping for the tip. He usually took the hint.
Another experience was the delivery of telegrams to Pelwears factory that I think was in Holme St. The factory was full of girls and we were whistled at and remarks made, which I wont, repeat when we walked through to the office. In Orwell St it was the habit of housewives to sit in chairs outside their houses chatting and if we saw them we would ride up slowly as tho we were looking for an address and checking our pouches. We would go slower and slower until we were alongside and then press on our pedals and ride off with the shouts from the ladies ringing in our ears. The good news that everybody hoped for was the telegram from Littlewoods or Vernons that you had won the football pools.
Then came the news of captured and alive POW camps I recall one overjoyed lady emptying her purse into my hands. Sometime on the early shift you would have to get people out of bed and one lady came to the door in her dressing gown took the telegram and opened it with both hands causing her gown to open wide and reveal everything. What an experience that was. Common deliveries were birthday and wedding congratulations. Sometimes at the reception you may get something to eat and generally a tip, arrival times of relatives and friends visiting and trawlers arriving home. I suspect that sometimes these gave the wife time to remove her boyfriend. Prior to the invasion of Europe there were many Americans in town and I recall them opening the door to my knocking and shouting out upstairs for the lady of the house. I would then be greeted by the lady sometimes in her dressing gown who would read the telegram �have not heard from you is everything alright� and she would ask me in to write a reply. In the house would be other soldiers drinking and smoking. The reply would be �everything ok writing tonight�. At 14 years of age it seemed odd to me what was going on there. Ah sweet innocence.
Another good delivery was to the Plaza Cinema. These messages were to give notice of forthcoming films and their delivery dates. This was a super call as you always got two free tickets and a sixpence. Another problem was dogs. At the Weelsby Rd end of Legsby Ave there was a house with a very long driveway. It also had a beware of the dog sign on the gate. You always left the gate open as most times the bulldog would be loose and you had to leg it for the gate and wait for the lady to come to you. I would run like hell to the gate and just slam it when the beast would stand on its front legs over the gate snarling and barking furiously. It wont harm you the lady would say but I never took the chance. I can still remember that house today.
Sometimes it rained heavily and you would get soaked to the skin. You would then be allowed to go home and change into your ordinary clothes and continue to get another wetting. Some winters if the snow made cycling impossible you would walk or have to take the bus. You had to hand in your used bus ticket upon return. We were allowed a free drink every morning of Namco which was powdered milk cocoa and sweeteners mixed with water. This was doled out by one of the lady cleaners of the Post Office. The person in charge of the messengers was not allowed this but one in particular always pushed his mug forward and someone had to get him a drink. This was resented by the lads so one day they put ink and glue in the mug before the water etc. was added and he never found out what he had drank. We all had a laugh at this. Like all the lads we were into mischief. New boys had an initiation ceremony which was ducking their heads in the sink and hanging them by their belts round their waist to the clothes pegs in the locker room.
Another prank was when delivering on the docks one of the fish merchants in Rowlandson St had offices on the second floor. There was no light in the corridor and the new lad was told there was a large hole in the centre of the corridor and you had to walk carefully at the edge. We all fell for this gag. Sneaking into Salisbury for a tea and bun was a risk worth taking provided you wolfed it down before anyone spotted you.
Part of the duties of the Inspector was to cycle round the town looking for us but the word would get round that �Tibby� was out and we would be careful not to ride on pavements, down passages between rows of houses and to wear out hats and keep out tunics buttoned up. I recall Inspector Robinson shouting at me in Victoria St on a busy hot day �messenger, put that hat on�. Nowadays he would have probably got a two finger salute.
If any misdemeanour was considered severe then you would probably be handed a report to fill in which asked you to explain why you were late back from delivery so many times, why you filled another messengers hat with water and placed it on top of the lockers so he got drenched when he took it down. Why you refused to go on delivery when you had just returned after cycling to Great Cotes in the rain and was told to go back again with more telegrams. The list of crimes was endless. The reply usually consisted of remorse and apologies and that you would never do this again and ended Your Obedient Servant. These reports were kept by the Head Postmaster. I don�t think they had much effect on our behaviour. Most of us resented having to attend night school. The subjects were basic English Arithmetic and Geography. To enable all messengers to attend all the duties were changed to make certain you turned up. There was a register kept and forwarded to the Head Postmaster to check absentees. I think the teachers name was Hollingsworth. At age 16 you sat the Boy Messengers Examination. Depending on the outcome your career could branch into many fields of the postal service such as telephone engineer, sorting clerk, teleprinter operator. I chose the teleprinter as it meant only a short training spell compared to the engineers who had to attend classes until they were 21. It was quite a time for a 14 year old.
Charles James Newman (T41) Grimsby
Charles Newman 1946 Grimsby
Charles Newman alongside the mobile Post Office at Lincoln Agricultural Show 1946
Last Edit: Apr 13, 2009 14:30:20 GMT by Matt James
Hi all Was told about your site by a chap on real classic web site, his name is Woodie from south London area. My name is Tony Thomas, I am from Barry in south Wales and have always worked in Cardiff which is just down the road from Barry. I started in Royal mail in 1974 at the tender age of 17 as a telegram boy in the old westgate street office, first of all on a push bike then after passing my test went on to bantam 175's. This was really the best working days of my life and it would be nice to talk to others about this. Speak soon Tony email@example.com Tel 01446 413556
I am writing to say that I joined the Post Office in Portsmouth as a Telegram Boy on the 3rd of July 1940, 3 weeks after my 14th birthday, and served until 1943 when I was a sorting clerk and telegraphist in the telegraph instrument room
The early days of the war were very difficult in the City because of the Bombing raids after a raid we were inundated with reply paid telegrams by people wanting to know if friends and relations were safe.
I recall one instance where I was out on a delivery for 5 hours, before returning to the office with a pouch full of reply telegrams on the night of January 10th 1941 the City experienced a severe fire blitz by German aircraft.
The following day I had to deliver telegrams to ships in the dockyard the street which I had to pass through was still ablaze, with fireman still endeavouring to quell the flames ,there was debris every where .
The worst part was delivering casualty telegrams, of which there were plenty, when H.M.S Strood was sunk by the Bismark I had 50 to deliver in the north end area of the City. It was a distressing job for a 15 year old but we coped, consoling people became another part of our job
I remember endeavouring to deliver a telegram to the house that I now live in, only to be told by a Policeman that everyone in the area had been evacuated because of an unexploded bomb first inside the road opposite .I remember him saying �if it detonates we won�t know much about it as we will go up with it �Needless to say I got on my pedal cycle and sped off as fast as I could go. It was eventually defused and turned out to be the largest UXB dropped on the City it weighed a ton. On another occasion, during daylight a lone German aircraft came in low over the City and machined gunned several people and myself who were cycling along the road. I could see the rear gunner clearly in his turret, fortunately none of us were hit but bullets splattered all along the road. It was an experience to say the least, but not a pleasant one!!
There was a Head Postman by the name of Mr Lacy, whose job it was to drive a motorcycle combination around to check that us telegram boys were doing the job properly and not going around together, He was very strict, and as a result lost the title of Mr and was referred to as �Herr-Von-Lacey� !!
We also had our own Home Guard Cadet Unit of which we were all members.
I still see a colleague whom I trained as a Telegram boy and we both agree that although times during the war were difficult our days as a Telegram Boys were the best days of our Post Office career