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.