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The Introduction of Split 1st and 2nd Class Mail Services in Great Britain

People just seem to assume the two classes of mail have been in place since the earliest days of Britain's postal services, possibly because the use of discriminatory class references is now often frowned upon in the modern world making such terms seem old-fashioned. To a degree I can agree that using simplistic classes of mail are rather unappealing in the age of branding experts and buzz-words we now live in!

The aim for Royal Mail in 1968 was, and remains, to deliver 1st Class post during the next working day after posting throughout most parts of the UK and there was no set maximum weight limit imposed although price banding by weight (and nowadays size) is applied.

2nd Class post was and remains cheaper but has always had restrictions on the maximum weight allowed (1lb 8oz prior to metric adoption in 1975 when it became 750g).

Sorting and distributing 1st Class mail would be prioritised over 2nd Class items meaning the original delivery target was set at the second working day after posting for most UK addresses. However, from January 1976 this service standard was lowered to become the third working day after posting to help reduce the cost of weekend and night sorting.

Here's the inland postage rates that applied when the two class mail system was introduced in 1968:

Table of 1st & 2nd Class Postage Rates From 16th September 1968

Date First Class Second Class Comment
16th Sep
5d - 4oz
9d - 6oz
1s - 8oz
1s 3d - 10oz
1s 6d - 12oz
1s 9d - 14oz
2s - 1lb
2s 3d - 1lb 2oz
2s 6d - 1lb 4oz
2s 9d - 1lb 6oz
3s - 1lb 8oz
4s - 2lb

For each additional 1lb - 2s
4d - 4oz
6d - 6oz
8d- 8oz
10d - 10oz
1s - 12oz
1s 2d - 14oz
1s 4d - 1lb
1s 6d - 1lb 2oz
1s 7d - 1lb 4oz
1s 8d - 1lb 6oz
1s 9d - 1lb 8oz (max)
A 2/- (2 Shilling) Concessionary Rate for Printed Papers using second class mail and weighing up to 2lbs was allowed only for mail that would have been considered "printed papers" previously

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The Introduction of Split 1st and 2nd Class Mail Services in Great Britain

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