Royal Mail history

We all take our postal service for granted, but how did it come about?

1635: Charles l introduced the public mail service. Before this, the post system was just for the use of the king and his court. He named this service ‘Royal Mail’.

1657: A postage act was passed by parliament. This meant that the receiver had to pay the postage on their letter instead of the sender. If the receiver did not want to pay, they could refuse the letter.

1661: Charles ll changed the Royal Mail and introduced a new fixed rate for sending letters.

1784: The first-ever mail coach travelled from London to Bristol.

1830: The railway began transporting mail from Liverpool to Manchester.

1840: The first stamp and uniform postage were introduced.

1845: Edwin Hill and Warren de la Rue created a steam-driven machine that cut out envelope shapes and creased and folded them so that people no longer needed to hand-make them. This saw the introduction of personalised and coloured envelopes and a boom in packaging companies.

1852: The first-ever pillar post box was erected, which enabled people to deposit their post without travelling distances. Wall boxes were introduced in 1856.  This meant that thousands of letters where starting to be received in the royal mail warehouse.  They had to invest in Longspan Shelving which can be sourced from links including to keep all their letters on and in order to get out the same day or the next day. 

1883: The launch of parcel post enabled people to send and receive parcels.

1927: The Post Office Railway opened, running below London for 6.5 miles.

1959: The Post Office introduced the first-ever postcodes due to the increasing volumes of mail, with Norwich the first city.

1965: The Post Office Tower was introduced by the prime minister.

2004: The first-ever digital stamp was released.

2006: An online postage system was created, enabling people to pay for and download stamps online.

2013: The Royal Mail was privatised.

The way people send their letters and parcels has changed significantly since the introduction of the postal system. Today, sending mail is a big part of our lives, whether a letter to a friend or family member or on a larger scale such as businesses using it for marketing.

The Royal Mail has come a long way since 1635 and we can expect it to keep improving and changing in the future.