If you live in Acocks Green you may well, at some time in the last few years (decades?) sighed over the state of our post boxes. Many of our post boxes are around 100 years old. They are a design classic: street furniture antiques which have stood the test of time, but post boxes do need painting …
What was going on? A member of Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum Executive wrote to Royal Mail, sending an X-Certificate pic of a local post boxright in the proposed Conservation Area, as she pointed out, and received an initially decidedly off-hand and snooty response:
I have been advised by the collections team that all post-boxes are on a rolling maintenance plan and each box has a scheduled date. As such the box will only be painted when this time occurs.
Um, when? Any time this century by any chance? Further investigation revealed that Royal Mail had an agreement with English Heritage in 2003 that they would paint all of their heritage items every three years. It didn’t really even take a keen knowledge of local Conservation issues to suggest that this was not happening: just average eyesight.
Two members of Acocks Green Focus Group joined in, and photographed lots more post boxes. Soon we had quite a little horror show going. Royal mail Twitter was more sympathetic, and then Sandy at the Acocks Green BID (She manages a fund of money raised by the traders and works on improvements in the village.) stepped in and wrote to her contact at Royal Mail, sending some of the bad news in pics and mentioning again the impending Conservation Area. Soon the nasty pics were flying around all over the place. Result. Thanks Sandy. Thanks Royal Mail. See pics below: a couple of happy befores and afters: first Alexander Road, Acocks Green, a story in three pictures …
We don’t know how old this post box is. We are going to try to find out. Most boxes have a ‘cipher’ (Royal initials) below the timetable plate. This one does not. This may mean that it is very old, because the ciphers only appeared from 1887 onwards, but that would make it older than the road. Was it there first? Was it moved from somewhere else? Is there another explanation? Below is the Sherbourne Road box (Next to Acocks Green Railway Station)
This (above) is the post box that started all the trouble, the one the original email to Royal Mail was about. It is in the (soon to be – we hope) Conservation Area. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ speak for themselves! Look at that lovely red glow on the right. Eight more boxes are getting this treatment shortly. Several more have already been done: if you live in Acocks Green, especially the North side, look out for the red glow on a street near you.
Your local box missed out? Royal Mail said ten was enough for now, but they have promised that the rest will be done in the next three years. Keep watching. Let us know if this is not happening.
Know your Boxes
The one above is a George V (5) box. We know this is so because the ‘G R’ starts for ‘George Rex’ in Latin, or ‘King George in English. This means we can tell that this one was put up in the time of George V and not his son George VI (6) or there would be a little VI in the middle of the (fancier) initials. (There’s a George VI box on the corner of Stockfield and Warwick Roads, near the shops there.) In plain English that means the Railway Station box went up between 1910 and 1936, when George V was king. We are guessing it arrived closer to 1910 than 1936 because of the age of the surrounding buildings, though.
Incidentally, the one which began this post is in The Avenue, Acocks Green. It is an Edward VII (7) box (1901-1910) We can tell because there is an ‘ER’ for ‘Edward Rex’ on it. Why not ‘Elizabeth Rex?’ It is easy to tell the difference between Elizabeth’s boxes and those of her great-grandfather Edward. Apart from the more modern styling there is a neat little II (2) between the E. and the R. Know your boxes!
We are gradually going to try to catalogue all of Acocks Green’s post boxes. Let’s watch to see that they are taken good care of in the future.