Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The GPO: British Post Office Messengers

"I heartily dislike the notion of sending the boys out on red machines like imps from hell".
- Post Office official discussing his dislike of red motorbikes,
favouring the standard BSA green.

This just might be the most brilliant job in the world. Think of it, being paid to ride your military-issue BSA along the rolling, rural roads of Great Britain - er... except for the rain and winter. Ah well, you can get a brief history of the use of postal motorbikes at the British Postal Museum & Archive. David Blasco's blog: RoyalEnfields.com reported "...the motorcycle youth of Scotland even imitated the telegram boys of Glasgow. They didn't ride Harleys, they rode Enfields and Nortons. Big, British army bikes. They couldn't afford leathers and silk scarves like their matinee idols, so they wore black post office-issue uniforms, wrapping white linen tea towels round their necks to look like American bikers. ...looked like Sinatra and dressed like Brando."

Following the successful use by contractors of motor cycles fitted with side carriers, the Post Office carried out their own experiments. Twenty vehicles were purchased in 1914 and introduced on rural delivery and collection services. Four tri-cars were also purchased. Following the First World War, more reliable and higher powered machines were available and their use was extended to town deliveries. The first experimental use of solo motorcycles began in 1924. By the end of the following year some 400 motorcycles of various makes were in use on both delivery and collection work.

"Wearing as they do the uniform of the Queen, they are under an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner which shall never bring that uniform into disrepute".
Post Office statement on Boy Messengers' behaviour, 1892

As the Postal official who shall not be named noted above, the preferred postal bikes was a green BSA Bantam. The Bantam was two-stroke unit construction motorcycle that was produced by the Birmingham Small Arms Company from 1948 (as a 125 cc) until 1971 (as a 175 cc).

We wouldn't want postal carriers to be mistaken as motorcycle demons rampaging the countryside on some Majestic hell-ride...

1 comment:

  1. Great item! Here's something I've never understood: how do you get your cap to stay on your head at the jaunty angle favored by the four fellows in the bottom picture? And why is the cap always to be tilted down over the left eye? Great look though...