500 years in the post

26th March 2004 at 00:00
1512 Henry VIII appoints a Master of the Posts to supervise government messaging

1626 A government postal service, the Royal Mail, introduced between London and Plymouth

1635 Charles I opens the service to the public

1661 First postmark, the Bishop Mark, introduced by Postmaster General Henry Bishop

1710 General Post Office started in London

1784 High speed mail coaches begin on the London-Bath run

1830 Royal Mail carried by rail for the first time, on the new Manchester-Liverpool line

1837 Rowland Hill submits a report proposing a radical revision of the postal service

1840 Rowland Hill's Penny Post

1843 First Christmas card posted

1846 London based horse-drawn mail coaches withdrawn

1854 Perforations introduced on sheets of stamps

1857 London divided into lettered districts - N, SW and so on - by Rowland Hill

1876 Numbers added to the London districts to divide them further, eg NW3

1898 Canada begins a penny post to Britain, forcing the pace of cheap overseas mail

1911 First airmail flight - Hendon to Windsor (part of George V coronation celebrations)

1919 First regular airmail service, London to Paris

1928 Travelling Post Offices (sorting mail on the move) introduced

1939 First Transatlantic airmail

1959 First postmark introduced in Norwich, extending to all of the UK by 1970

1981 British Telecomunnications Act splits off BT from the Post Office

1986 Post Office split into Letter, Parcels, Counters and Girobank

1987 Optical Character Recognition begins in sorting offices

1990 Parcelforce becomes an independent division of Royal Mail

2004 Travelling Post Offices withdrawn

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