Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Seeing Red


This photo is a souvenir of a visit to the Scilly Isles. I was taken as much by its warning that ‘The times of collection are dependant upon the departure of transport facilities’ as I was by the contrast of its rusting red beauty with the lichen-covered stone wall. A post box from the era of Queen Victoria, when Britain was still building its now diminished Empire, but still in use today.

Britain lagged behind its European neighbours in providing roadside letter boxes, with the first being erected in St Helier, Jersey at the recommendation of Anthony Trollope, the novelist, who was working as a Surveyor’s Clerk for the Post Office at that time.

Over the years there have been many designs of pillar and post boxes, meriting whole books and webpages on their history. When Bill Bryson published his book 'Icons of England' in 2008, a bright red pillar box adorned the cover and a piece by Peter Ashley. 'From Pillar to Post’, reminded the reader of why these ‘essential items in the iconography of England’ should be conserved.

Carmi prompted this piece in the ‘Thematic Photography’ section of his blog, with a call for photographs of anything red. Take a look and you will see links there to some of my fellow-bloggers who have already posted some wonderful pictures.

A postscript (if you will pardon the pun) for the pedants among us. The word ‘dependant’ in the inscription above, jars somewhat. I was always taught that spelled with an ‘a’ the word was a noun and that an adjective, as in ‘dependent upon’ should be spelled with an ‘e’. Nowadays it is possible to find examples of both spellings in use for the adjective. I’m not sure what was going on in the above example; we now take a much more relaxed approach to orthography, and perhaps the Victorian signwriters did too. The way we spell and use words is evolving, and these days the notice would probably say that departure times were dependent upon ‘transportation’, which until recently had an entirely different meaning in the English language. So occasionally  I ‘see red’ over the way we seem to casually cast off perfectly serviceable words in favour of other more clunky alternatives (at the risk of offending my American friends), but I am slowly learning to accept that it’s all part of the evolution of language.

Liz, over at ‘Shortbread and Ginger’ also wrote a piece a few weeks back; if you click here you can see some of her photographs of old postboxes in Scotland.


16 comments:

  1. I love finding old post boxes like yours, hiding in far flung parts of Britain. I once found one in Ireland (Eire) but they had painted it green to show their independence from us!

    And its a great photo - thanks for calling in at my blog.

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  2. I haven't seen a post box in a wall for ages. I shall have to be more observant. I hope they do not go the way of many of our red telephone boxes.

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  3. Oh this is absolutely fabulous, and I will check out the other boxes too, I just enjoy what wisdom and information you brought with this TP and what future photos and info you'll bring! Great seeing red photo! Thanks!

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  4. Great picture, I love finding old things like that around. Nice find.

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  5. That photograph would look lovely framed in my living room. I can relate to the sort of 'in my own time, and if you're lucky' attitude to committing to times too. A great shot.

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  6. Great picture. Oddly enough I was recently photographing postboxes too - I was very taken with the green versions they have in Ireland.

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  7. It is a marvelous red color. I asked my postmaster the other day as to when the mail is actually picked up on Saturday. Even though they don't post it on the box, they actually do pick it up one more time in the evening when the bulk truck comes by. They lead us to believe that if you don't get it there by ten in the morning that nothing will go out for the next two days.

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  8. A great shot - very appealing!

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  9. A wonderful object indeed. I suppose we must be thankful that letter-box technology had changed so little (they are still metal boxes with a hole in) and therefore it has not been necessary to update them. They must be contenders for the prize of the longest serving publicly used objects. They get my vote.

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  10. Very interesting post. Thanks for mentioning my pictures!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  11. Thanks for the history lesson, never seen one of those mailboxes before and am surprised to the long explanation printed on it... Very proper indeed.

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  12. As Bob says above, They Might Well Become an endangered species in the same way as Telephone Boxes.It's only when something begins to disappear that you notice how beautiful it is.

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  13. My inner pedant (or should that be "pedent") agrees with you, but perhaps the Post Office's placard maker was dyslexic - or whatever they had instead in those days!

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  14. At the risk of helping this comments thread degenerate into a grammar-rant (so easily done):

    I'm definitely mellowing with regards to "the evolution of language". It's probably because I do so much reading/listening on the lexical wilderness that is the Web. However, I still can't stand it when people say "addicting" and "deceiving" when they mean "addictive" and "deceptive".

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  15. There's such history and texture in this shot...it kind of makes me wish today's postmasters would hold on to history a little more effectively than they already do. The post office box near by house is little more than a highly secure sheet metal-clad box. Yours, on the other hand, is unforgettable.

    I love how you've explored this one!

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