History and Photo of Channel Islands Victorian Post Boxes
The history of pillar box use in Britain can be traced back to the Channel Islands via Sir Rowland Hill and the well known author Anthony Trollope. Sir Rowland Hill asked Anthony Trollope to visit the Channel Islands in order to investigate solutions to the problem of erratic mail collections on the islands of Jersey and Guernsey. Trollope identified the main cause of the problem as the varied times of Royal Mail boats arriving and departing the islands due to changing tide times and unpredictable weather conditions.
Trollope suggested that a "letter receiving pillar" he had previously seen working in Paris could be the answer so that letters could be posted any time securely and then await collection for boat sailings whenever they occured. Trollope originally said four "pillars" would be required on Guernsey and another five for Jersey.
The Vaudin & Son foundry on Jersey was given the job to produce the octagonal "pillars". The first four were erected on Jersey at various locations around St Helier entering service on November 23rd 1852. In February 1853 Guernsey had seen three "pillar" boxes installed.
The "pillars" proved highly successful for their intended purpose and the Vaudin & Son pillar box pictured above is still to be seen in Union Street, Saint Peter Port, Guernsey. Another Vaudin & Son pillar is now in the care of the British Postal Museum & Archive.
The history and designs of pillar and post boxes have regularly featured on Royal Mail and Channel Island stamp issues (and stamp booklets) over the years. You can use this link to view many examples of these pillar and post box stamps, booklets, miniature sheets and covers.
The Bath Postal Museum website also has a nice page featuring the history and designs of British post boxes.
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