The River Post

Royal Mail 50018 February 2016

Greg Denieffe writes: 

A new set of postage stamps was issued by Royal Mail yesterday, 17 February, to celebrate 500 years of Royal Mail history. There are six stamps in total and the issue is called the Royal Mail 500 Stamp Set.

One of the stamps will be of interest to rowing historians as it features a photograph of an unknown river post woman. I found the image used by Royal Mail in the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

River post woman by Horace Nicholls © IWM Q 30842 (Imperial War Museum).
River post woman by Horace Nicholls © IWM Q 30842 (Imperial War Museum).

 

In the 19th century, a postman didn’t always deliver the mail on land. An unusual postal job in the London area was River Postman in the Pool of London, the stretch of the River Thames from London Bridge to below Limehouse. The River Postman received and delivered mail to the moored ships. The first person appointed to this position was William Simpson in 1800. The position continued until 1952 when it ended due to the increase in commercial traffic on the Thames.
In the 19th century, a postman didn’t always deliver the mail on land. An unusual postal job in the London area was River Postman in the Pool of London, the stretch of the River Thames from London Bridge to below Limehouse. The River Postman received and delivered mail to the moored ships. The first person appointed to this position was William Simpson in 1800. The position continued until 1952 when it ended due to the increase in commercial traffic on the Thames.

 

Badge of a River Postman (1807-1808).
Badge of a River Postman (1807-1808). The first person appointed to the position of river postman in London was William Simpson in 1800. This arm badge has ‘POST OFFICE’ inscribed around the top circumference and ‘SHIP LETTER CARRIER’ around the bottom circumference and was made by John Emes in 1807-8.

 

River postmen operated on the River Thames from 1800 to 1952, delivering mail to boats moored from London Bridge to below Limehouse. This river postman's full skirted frock coat is made of scarlet broadcloth. The shoulders of the coat are capped with the same scarlet cloth as the body of the coat and feature a black embroidered border. River postmen also operated in Poole and South Shields.
River postmen operated on the River Thames from 1800 to 1952, delivering mail to boats moored from London Bridge to below Limehouse. This river postman’s full skirted frock coat is made of scarlet broadcloth. The shoulders of the coat are capped with the same scarlet cloth as the body of the coat and feature a black embroidered border. River postmen also operated in Poole and South Shields.

 

George Henry Evans
George Henry Evans

George Henry Evans worked as a river postman in the Pool of London. He delivered mail to the ships moored there for thirty years. Evans was part of a family dynasty of river postmen dating back to 1810 and lasting five generations. He handed the role over to his son, Herbert Lionel, who remained on this duty until it ended in 1952.

Tim Koch has found an interesting little film on YouTube called The River Postman from 1933, showing “Mr. Evans” rowing his mail on the Thames:

Doris Beaumont (born c.1900) was a river post girl on the Thames during the First World War. Born in Staines-upon-Thames, she delivered letters to the houseboats along a seven mile stretch of river at Staines. By 1919 it was said that she had rowed 2,500 miles. Her unusual job brought her publicity around the world.

There is no picture of Beaumont on the Royal Mail website but luckily I found one of her that accompanied an article in the Sausalito News [California] on 14 September 1918. The article River Postgirl on the Thames wouldn’t win any plaudits from supporters of the This Girl Can campaign.

Maiden Makes Daily Delivery to Houseboats and Other Points Along the Stream.
Maiden Makes Daily Delivery to Houseboats and Other Points Along the Stream.

 

Girls! What would you do?
Girls! What would you do?

 

Two Oars Good, One Oar Bad - Mail Delivery on the River in Germany c.1909
Two Oars Good, One Oar Bad – Mail Delivery on the River in Germany c.1909

2 comments

  1. Yes its my late grandmother Doris Sutcliffe (nee Beaumont) in both pictures. I have a better copy of the US report and photo. She was actually born in east London not Staines and the family moved west after the Zeppelin raids on east London.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s