Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
Very comprehensive history of the mail service in Britain
on 17 November 2012
I ordered this book because I have always been fascinated by the mail service and wanted to learn a bit more about the "dean" of European postal services and how the mail worked in times past. And the book did not disappoint: it offers a very comprehensive review of the evolution of the British postal service since its early days in the Elizabethan era and the first "organized" civilian post office, in the XVII century. It also has a good number of maps and illustrations. It explains in detail how the mail worked in the pre-railroad era and in Victorian times, you would be amazed to learn delivery times for the mail in mid-XIX Century in most of the British Isles were not unlike in our days, with next-day delivery often available. Of course, this required a huge organisation with nearly half a million people employed.
The chapters that deal with the XX century post devote a lot of attention by matters that relate to trade unionism and labour relations, but you can skim these if, as in my case, you are not that interested in the history of British industrial relations.
The only thing I maybe found missing from the book is some more information about how international mail worked in earlier times, the set up of post offices across the british Empire and the relation between Royal Mail and the post offices in other overseas British Territories...I give it 5 stars nevertheless because the author makes it explicit that he is going to focus on the set up of the Royal Mail in the British Isles, and this he does very well! international and empire mail possibly deserve another book on its own.