Notes from the Curator's Workshop.
The nearest thing this site gets to a Blog...
8th June 2015
Nearly two years since a blog post? Well, I was busy...
Shed Too (the earlier shed is now Shed Won) is fully functional and contains a splendid row of 28 C-size and small ludlow wall boxes, all stripped back and repainted. Seven large GPO posters for Schools are now framed on the wall above these (PO in the Town, At the Airport, At the Docks, In Space, Susan makes a Trunk Call, Are you properly Addressed?, Journey of a Letter Mk3) [That just leaves the PO in the Country, but I refuse to pay £80 on Ebay for a folded copy). They all look great. This year I am starting to construct a large OO gauge railway below the posters and above the boxes - it is going to be fab! New additions to date: French Dejoie box of 1967, Tamil, Urdu & Hindi "Letter Box" enamel signs from India, "Postkantor" enamel from RSA, 7 railway totems on display (Kingston, Woolich Dockyard, Byfleet & New Haw, Chertsey, West Grinstead, Ditton Junction & Elmstead Woods), E8R small Ludlow, VR small Ludlow (ex-Buxton) GPO No36 Master Clock & bakelite slave, Madingley and Little Shelford Post Office enamel signs by Chromo. Lots of smaller stuff too. The main news is that FINALLY the K8 telephone kiosk is not only erected, but painted and in severe danger of being fitted out by the time of HODS 2015! This is because the late, great Reg Down finally got the scaffolding to us just before he passed away and we were able to put it all together. Just got to fit it all out now. The 700 series collection is growing - 7 different colours so far, but no black! The payphone for the K8 will be a 700 series unit, but the red Hospital portable style as the original grey ones are way too expensive for the budget. I also still need a door closer and two door retainers plus a light fitting - our roof shows no signs of ever having a light fitted to it. Oh and we have a second post bike - spotted by Mr J Wells of Saffron Waldem lurking on a skip outside Great Chesterford Post Office just before Christmas. It is unbranded, but in GPO house style with frame number and I reckon it is at least 1950s if not 1940s. New tyres, brakes and handlebar grips have been fitted - it needs a new Dunlop saddle really , but it rides well.
25th August 2013
So much has happened since the last update. This is because I lost the original .org domain name. When it came up for renewal all the docs were sent to the old Freeserve address which had been helpfully deleted by the French bastards running Orange webmail aka Wanadoo aka Freeserve these days. So it lapsed. I'm glad to say that after a lot of argy bargy with Zen hosting, we now have the new .org.uk domain and the site is fully functioning on this for now. Enough IT crap, what about the Museum? Well, I am now officially Steve "Two Sheds" Knight! The second shed (imaginatively called Shed Two) is magnificent! It's 30 feet by 10 feet and with a sloping roof it's 2.5m high at the front and 2m at the rear (sorry to mix units). That's because at 30m2 area & 2.5m high, it's the biggest you can have without planning permission. The base took up an entire fallen wall full of old bricks plus 1.5 m3 of concrete. The interior is insulated with 1" polystyrene and panelled out in 1/4" MDF with a laminate floor. It has four sexy black ceramic panel heaters and four not very sexy 8ft fluor tubes. Plus oodles of power points. It took most of the winter to wire it up, board it out and paint it, but was all done for our LBSG Private View in June. Now I am gradually stripping back and repainting each of the Victorian wall boxes so that they can take their place on the rear plinth. Shed Two is, once again, fitted out like a classic post office, only this time it's a 1980s unit. Shed One has reverted to it's roots as a 1950s SPO and this makes a sensible separation of the collections.
The K8 is still a kit of parts needless to say. It is just too heavy to erect without scaffolding and although promised some time ago, I am still awaiting that. In the end the chickens stayed in the Upper Garden as they are better protected from foxes during the day up there.
New additions are the soon to arrive LWB 174/2 small Scottish Crown Ludlow and the Bulbous Crown GR Size C wall box, acquired from Greg Leary's collection.
30th March 2012
We completed our purchase of the extra land today. So much to do now, but at least the base of the K8 kiosk is in position on the new "patch".
7th March 2012
I knew it was too good to be true - the CPanel software has just erased the last four years of blog posts.....
1st March 2012
Well here we go again, time for a new update with yet a different method of editing the text. This time I'm using Zen CPanel's built in HTML editor. Let's hope it keeps on working!
The really big news is that we now have more land. And that means more space to display the ever growing collection. We were, after 16 years of trying, able to buy the extra piece of land that lies at the bottom of our existing garden. It adds a whopping 118ft to the length, more than doubling it. This will enable the chickens and their coup to move down there away from the house along with the tool shed, composter bins and general gardening paraphernalia currently cluttering what from now on will be known as the Lower Garden. That will allow re-organisation of the Upper Garden and existing shed area to better display the collection.
HISTORIC BLOG NOTES FROM RECOVERY
Don't you just hate PCs? I do. Why can't they just work? And keep on working? Without constant mind-numbingly long updates... I should not have to rebuild, defrag or "clean" my PC just because Micro$oft want to install more of their crap software on it. They really are the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation - piling patches on to mistakes to fix errors they should have spotted. Don't worry; it'll be fixed by Windoze 7....maybe! All I want is to stick nice pictures of post boxes onto a website and I don't want to learn f*cking HTML to do it! Anyway, end of rant....
A lot has happened since the entries below; too much to recount in detail, but here's a summary:
We were on BBC Essex Radio as part of the promo for the Royal Mail post box miniature sheet issue on August 18th. Ray Clarke visited and did a decent 3 minute interview. We are currently plugging our last Open Day of 2009 - on September 13th - I say "we" as perhaps the most momentous change is the creation of the Colne Valley Postal Museum Trust. We need to establish a Trust to keep the collection together in the event of my untimely death …. Not that I’m planning to pop off just yet, but my mercenary teenage sons would happily sell the lot and spend the dosh on more console games…. As if they don’t have enough already. So we now have a Board of Trustees and for the record these are in no particular order Messrs Wells, Pittway, Courtier, Knight and Leary. We will be co-opting as required for specialist skills too.
Having formed our Trust we are now being advised by the delightful Ashleigh from Essex County Council Museum Development Service as to how to set about the long and arduous process of becoming a registered museum. This will enable other Museums to legally give us material they have no further use for. Already those wonderful folks at the BPMA have kindly donated four surplus stamp vending machines (three of which now work) and I’m sure there will be more mutual co-operation between us. Because we cannot conserve artistic materials or paper records correctly we donated to BPMA six pieces of original artwork for the Railway Locomotives series of aerogrammes (1995) that had been in our collection for some time. In fact I have generally tidied up the Museum and disposed of a lot of non-core material as well as focussing on the collection areas which we do best – post boxes, stamp vending machines and street furniture.
I have actually initiated another collecting stream, as it appears not to be covered by the BPMA, and that is POSB Money Boxes. We have already got some very old, antiquated and interesting designs with more being sought out on Ebay all the time. My personal favourite is a KGV Jubilee money box from 1935.
Our final area of collaboration with BPMA is about the 2010 Festival of Stamps. This national celbration of philately recognizes the 70th anniversary of King George V accession and includes KGV themed events across the Country throughout the year. We are doing our bit with an extra Open Day and special KGV material on display looking at the development of the Postal Service during this long reign. So expect plenty of PB29/30s, TK31s and Air Mail stuff!
On the post box front, the big news was the addition of a 1932 Derby Castings Type D Pillar Box (PB29). That is the large one with built-in stamp vending machine. There was a lot of posturing and sabre-rattling surrounding our acquisition of the box which I can’t go into here, but suffice to say it all appears to have been sorted out. Fitted with a new door and stamp machine and with 70 years of paint and London filth (it was on Fulham Palace Rd) removed, it looks superb. It does have a real Coin Drop notice, but the horizontal notice plate is currently a photograph of Arthur Reeder’s plate. I’m sure eventually a real one will turn up.
Not quite so spectacular, but nonetheless important are the early 1887 Type C wallbox with high aperture (WB87/1) (From Chester) it’s sister with low aperture (WB87/2) (from Southwold) and the Edward VII Type C box with Imperial Crown, which came as a swap from Ross Courtier. On the lamp box front, a chance find by my Sister-in-Law in France bought a second LB204 back home to Blighty – God bless you Paula! As we already had one from Bill Sait’s collection, the new one has become the only duplicated box in the collection. To remedy this, it is painted in An Post green and carries a gaelic collection plate, representing the dwindling numbers of these boxes still to b e found in the Republic. A couple of swaps and some smart door-changing has brought us at last the Abbot Engineering tin back with maker’s name on a raised plate. Tescos kindly donated the remains of the Wolverhampton Royal Hospital internal user box which was first seen on Flickr lying in the wrecked former hospital. Now fully restored, it looks rather good.
A lot of smaller items such as signage, date stamps, counter furniture and, of course, paperwork has continued to come our way. Some is bought on Ebay or at auction, but a lot of it just gets given to us by someone looking for “a good home” for their old stuff. Recent highlights are: enamel name sign from Castle Hedingham Post Office, similar from Ditrchingham, Norfolk, a pewter ink stand with dip pens marked S.O. and a lovely little red cloth bound book of Instructions for Cleaning Telephone Kiosks!
Kiosks have been on our mind of late. For some while we have had a Push Button A coinbox in the Museum. We got a Model 232 ‘phone for it 18 months ago and now we are the proud owners of a 1927 Type K6 telephone kiosk. This is a very early example of the Jubilee kiosk and, I have to say, it was in very poor condition. It has been owned since 19809 by two different local collectors, neither of whom did any work to it. So we have had it carefully separated into all it’s constituent parts so it can be shot blasted. Unfortunately all the cast-iron window frames need to be removed and that means drilling out 72 screws. So the box is offsite at the moment where we can continue to work on it over the Autumn/Winter period. Meanwhile we seek out new or replacement items to complete it. We have a new Push/Pull glass and new Telephone glass signs are on their way. Coin trays have been sourced, but we still need the back-board mirror frames and notice frames and the twin shelves. All of this can be found, but this is a longer term project. The completed item will be sited at the bottom of the garden, opposite the Museum building for now.
Well, that’s about it for now. Hopefully I can try to keep this blog more up to date in future, but who knows when the next hard disc crash is coming??
OLDER RECOVERED FILES
26/2/08 Today I got the Post No Bills enamel plate from ebay. A little stained and rusted, but nevertheless a very nice item. It nesecitated a complete change around of the plates already on the British Standard Fat pole to accomodate it. We now have eleven dirrent pole plates and I have identified a vurther two that I know exist, but we don't already have.
24/2/08 Been another busy month. I spent this weekend putting the PB33 Edward VIII pillar together. It was a bitch! The replacement door is very slightly bowed ouytward in the middle, so my carefully machined hinge fixings all lined up perfectly but I could not shut the door. That meant releasing the three cap bolts and taking the lid off. Then I positioned the door with the bottom hinge pin and shut it with the lock. That meant I could lean down into the box and fix the hinge in place with two of the three bolts. It looks great, but it will never open! I had already spent several evenings grinding about 1/2 inch off the bottom of the door.
20/2/8 We are going to be filmed for Anglia TV's Bygones programme - sometime in early March. Should be interesting.
16/2/08 The Southwold box is now on display and today it was joined by the WB87/1 from Chester. I had to fit a wooden CP to this box as it has an incorrect Type F door. In fact I think all three parts were from different boxes! Now fully painted and next to the WB87/2 you can easily see the difference. We received more collection tablets from Ebay today, we now have enough to cover most box numbers that appear on CPs.
14/12/07 Well it's been a really long gap this time! I did not have the necessary FTP client to keep the site uploaded and I'm posting this using FileZilla as I refuse to pay twenty quid for Bulletproof FTP to get it working again. Such a lot has happened, I'm not sure where to start!
We now have our first French post box, which arrived courtesy of Chris Twitcham, this week. It is a 1977 model wall-mounted and in excellent condition. I wanted a French box because we also have two nice French enamel signs - "Recette Auxilliarie" and "Agence Postale" , both by Email Strasbourg and both pre-WW2. In the British department, we were gifted an unusual box from Tesco. They took over the old Wolverhampton Royal Hospital building and in the ruins was an old Private box which had served patients in the Foyer. Tesco generously donated what was left of it, unfortunately the vandals had give it a good kicking and lost the base. The box is mostly constructed of plywood with hardwood framing and can be restored. On the cast-iron front, we have acquired the WB87/2 from Southwold Railway Station and this came with it's original plate. It is now fully restored and will be joined this weekend by a damaged WB87/1 from the Chester area. This box needs work on the door and the lower outer left framing, but can all be repaired. At last I have sourced a spare Carron B pillar carcass to take our PB33 Edward VIII door and this should be on-site over Christmas. A much bigger project (and box) is also waiting in the wings for a Hiab!
The small artifacts collection has grown considerably over the year, with more items of uniform, badges and small counter objects such as hacking knife, parcel scissors and Registered label dispensers. In addition we have two magnificent posters "Journey of a Letter" and "At the Airport" which are now framed and on display. A third poster, for the Post Office Savings Bank , featuring Coddenham, Norfolk also arrived. This superb print is by noted East Anglian artist Len Squirrel RA and was admirably re-touched for us by noted Halstead-based transport artist Malcolm Root. Malcolm is also a long-time admirer of Squirrel's work and was happy to help restore this rare item of Squirrelania.
On the AA front, we paid more than we should have done for Reydon, Norfolk which is in a mess, and got a good price on Great Easton, Essex (from a Cambridge dealer) and East Langdon, Kent (from Ebay). A deal with Steve Fuller of Chatteris brought four signs to the Museum: Hollesley Suffolk, Cople, Beds and two from Norfolk- Bircham Newton and Bergh Apton. This brings us up to 24 signs on site now.
We are now on personal terms with Sir William McAlpine after enjoying his renowned hospitality over the Summer at a Fawley collectors' open day. During the auction, we persuaded Sir Bill to let us bid for a complete telegraph head with three cross bars and 18 insulators. For the princely sum of £2, we won it and one of Sir Bill's men kindly ground off the bolt heads so that we could get it all into the Passat estate. One arm each has gone to our two outstations; in Saffron Walden and Colchester. The remaining arm is now resplendent here on the pole which also sports a selection of recently acquired pole signs: Cast E7R Do Not Throw Stones, Cast E7R Post no Bills, Enamel SE Post No Bills, enamel P7T Do not throw stones (Both bi-lingual), GR cast Do Not Throw stones and finally, from a C pillar box, Please Post in Correct Aperture. Other pole furniture has been donated by Duncan Parks of North Wales and includes a connection ring for the top of a pole and the finial weather shield. We already had a finial insulator bracket from Sir Bill, so we can now complete the 11" diameter pole
.Local donations & acquisitions have seen us gain the enalel sign from the ex-Castle Hedingham Post Office and documentation on the recent strike.
PS: You would not believe how hard it is to update this stuff now- I've got 6 programs open and I still can't get it to pick the images properly!
22/9/07 A very enjoyable day out at the BPMA Store in Debden for hands on with GPO street furniture. Shame only 6 people showed up for a well-researched & presented session.
19/9/07 What a nightmare! The Shortal servers were due to be switched off in September with the forced migration of this site to Zen hosting. Less than ideal as it co-incided with two weeks internet-free holiday. And now I have to try to upload this to a different FTP site. In addition, the cloned copy was taken in May which means lots of changes to the text are now missing presumed lost. It will take some time to get to grips with the enormous backlog of updates. In addition, Mozilla Composer seems unable to upload images correctly. To cap it all, in the transition every HTML link from the Home button on the tool bar has becomne self-referential and will need to be sorted.
12/06/07 Still have not really got to grips with Mozilla, so I have been putting off doing any more edits. Stuff is still rolling in for the site, but it is all picture based and I can't figure out how to upload the pictures to where I want them. We lost out on Maiden Newton AA sign on Ebay last week, but did win a coupke of small GPO items for the small artefacts section - a hacking knife for cutting bundles tied with string and whistle. A deal with UK Architectural Antiques has brought us box No. 90, a VR C wall box by Eagle Range & Foundry Co. (WB 83/5), it even had a plate on it. We also one a nice cast Aluminium plaque from a telephone exchange or PO building featuring the EiiR cipher and year 1971. It is being restored now.
15/5/07 Nearly a month without web access - aargh! Still we are back with Peripanetic ISP and trying to use Mozilla Composer to edit the pages. So much more difficult than the old Shortal method. Still you have to learn new things. There are a number of transcription errors, especially in the picture files that will take time to correct, please bear with us on this. Lots of stuff happened this month. We got a superb Irish You may telephone from here sign and followed it up with an Irish Don Not Throw Stones signs, both bi-lingual. The Forge completed the fixing bracket for the SVM to go on the E7R pillar and lots of other stuff too numerous to mention, including the acquisition of a dodgy B wall box of Ebay which contained our very first enamel CP from Cambridge - Box 426 Wulfstan Way
20/4/07 A long gap due to work commitments that took me to Canada and beyond. Also some bad news, the Shortal servers are closing at the end of this month and the whole site will be transferred elsewhere. However, it won't have the easy editing facilities provided by Shortal, so updating the site is going to be much more difficult. On a brighter note, I got home today to find that our collection plates from Bonhams had arrived together with two more Post Office "above the door" signs by Chromo of Wolverhampton.Pics this weekend.
1/4/07 A bright sunny day and a good excuse to remove the fat telegraph pole from the blue plastic wrapper it came in and get it erected. Peter helped me fit the three GPO footboards and then we fitted the cast GR Do Not Throw Stones plate that came from Bonhams last year. I also transferred the enamel version from the smaller pole (where it did not fit) to the fatter one (where it does fit). Six GPO lead cable grips finished it off for now. If a set of hoops of the right size turns up, a box could be fitted too. Picture on Street Jewelry page.
30/1/07 The stamps arrived and I spent a couple of hourse making up adaptors to take our existing dies and to fit the assembly to a standard GPO cancel handle. It works!
29/1/07 When in Cambridge I always visit Cambridge Rubber Stamps. My aim this time was to get a couple of rubber cancels made up; one for the TPO (at the Colne Valley Railway) and onme for use in the Museum.
26/3/07 Alexandra Palace model railway exhibition - a debauched weekend with the Editorial Team from BRM, noted here as I picked up a nice LT enamel sign for Additional Parking Spaces. Very useful for Open Days!
21/3/07 I have spent a couple of evenings designing and writing a Wikipedia page for Pillar Boxes. Whilst there was one there it was pretty basic. Working with a US-based Irish contributor we have a pretty good page ready to go up. I'll let you know when it goes live. I also took the Type R SVM housing and the adaptor bracket for the B box to the forge today. The modern bracket does not fit the 1936 pattern housing so it will need a 1/8th" steel interleave sheet so that the two parts can be bolted together. In fact we are collectively going to need three of these as Alan Mattin and Greg Leary have the same problem to cope with.
19/3/07 Telephone Kiosk section goes live with fully revised pics and comprehensive notes on the different types.
18/03/07 Guest editor Marcus: I helped the Curator reposition the A and D size wall boxes inbetween hail showers and bright sun this afternoon. It is a heavy job but allowed all four boxes to be brought together for the first time.
17/3/07Letter Box Study Group meeting in Wakefield. This was a very pleasant day out seeing a lot of familiar faces and putting names to new ones. Thanks must go to Thomas Manning from Dublin for the superb Irish black and yellow time plates. Also to Arthur Reeder of IoWPHM for the SVM bracket. Incidentally when I got home I offered it up to the 1936 pattern SVM housing and guess what...... it doesn't fit! So another trip to the forge is called for to fabricate a making-up peice. We also picked up two cans of finest Williamsons paint - BS538 Post Office Red and BS539 Post Haste. I am reliably informed that the later is the current colour used by RM and that BS538 is the older traditional colour. We shall see!
11/3/7 New Ludlows posted from Howard & Liam: Minchampton, Lullington, Chathill, Ratby, Longhaughton and Belsay. Today being another sunny one saw the GviR E box, the GR D and the GR Allen B box all receiving final coats of paint.. The Allen B wall box has now been fitted withthe Pentre Dhu plate which we got from Ebay recently. Obviously the E and D wall boxes don't have plates, so the newly arrived Kesgrave Hall plate from the Inkpen Museum will go on the high cipher GR B wall box once it returns from blasting. This one is caked in paint with very little detail visible and certainly needs bead blasting whereas the others were not too bad and I was able to strip them with wire brush, belt sander and hot air gun, although this is slow and tiresome. A quick visit to our "outstation" in Saffron Walden revealed no less than 17 boxes on site and the GviR pillar newly planted in John's front garden, where it looks rather good I have to say. I also found today that the "spare" E2R box is actually a 10" aperture W T Allen B wall box. We only have 8" apertures by Allen, so it's not spare after all and is in fact, our 90th box....
10/03/07 Another week travelling in Europe was followed by a clear sunny day Saturday. Time to get the paint brush out. I gave the GR Allen B wall box a first coat this morning and whilst waiting for it to dry, set about the GviR E wallbox. It opened easily to reveal little of note save a 2p peice! I stripped away a lot of the old paint with belt sander, wire brush and heat gun so it could take a coat of primer tomorrow. I also rubbed down the door of the GR E wall box where I had filled in the non-authentic CPH holes. So that can get painted too. Its a good job Greg Leary has made a recent mercy dash to T & R Williamsons of Ripon, else we would be running out of paint. Whilst the brush was wet I shot over to Steeple Bumpstead and made good the PB27 from whence the SVM plate had been removed as promised to my contact at RM. And in Saffron Walden I picked up our 9th LT 'E' plate to complete the "9 boat" LT flag in the garden. Picture in Street Jewelry section. What a day!
25/2/07 Today I collected the new struts for the Type R SVM housing. They were a tight fit at first, but they do seem to work; stopping the machine front from falling free during loading. I also had a go at re-assembling the Supermarket box (PB58/3) which was in several bits when recovered from the RM Store. This proved more difficult than it looks and took most of the afternoon. You can see the finished box on the 3rd EiiR page. I also found time to put a plate in the Handyside WB103/1 GR B wall box. This one is from Birkenhead (Soereton Rd), but now carries Norris Hill, Southampton and has been added to the GR pages.
22/2/07 Another undercover operation saw me rendez-vous with RM Cambridge at a secret location near Steeple Bumpstead early on a wet Thursday morning. Our mission? To retreive a valuable bit of ephemera for the collection. The said item is an enamel notice plate in a brass frame fixed to a GR pillar box. The notice was a standard warning to "Wait Delivery of Stamp Before Inserting a Second Coin" and indicates that at one time the box (CB9 34) had a stamp machine attached. When Paul opened it , we could see where the fixing holes had been carefully filled it with bits of brazing rod. I quickly set about removing the two fixing screws. The top most shifted with a screwdriver, having been in situ since 1936, but the lower screw, which protruded into the box, was very recalcitrant and I had to resort to drilling off the head and levering the brass plate holder away from the box to free it. A bemused pedestrian with two letters to post was our only other visitor and the whole operation took less than 20 minutes, although part of the deal is that I have to make good the box in due course. You can see the plate in it's original location on our SVM pages, here is the cleaned-up plate.
16/2/07 The Retreival & Restorations team from the Museum descended once more upon the RM Store in deepest Essex at the invitation of the Planning Manager. This final visit was to recover some large items which could not be handled in the short daylight hours back in December when we last visited. Not much had changed and we quickly set about moving the stored wall boxes to free up the PB38/1 pillar at the rear of the store. This was due to go to the Oxford Bus Museum, but was switched at the last minute to our outstation in Saffron Walden. It is in good condition save for a missing hinge pin. With the aid of our special post box trolley we got it out and on to a tail-lift van specially hired for the day. A Lion Foundry A wall box proved to be extremely heavy, lying on its back until we realised that it was full of water! With the box upended, orange rusty water flooded out all around the locked door, somewhere around 150 litres, or 150Kg of water. It was much easier to move after that. Several important boxes were recovered for the Herts & Essex collection, which grows apace and for an important private collection near Colchester. In addition we gained the following boxes for the main CVPHM collection: WB112 GviR Type E wallbox, WB103/1 A Handyside GR B Wallbox, WB97 Allen B wallbox, but not sure exactly which variant yet and finally a PB58/3 Broadwater Supermarket box. This last was in several peices and the fibreglass is deeply gouged in places and will require specialist restoration. At least this time we all got out without any serious injuries or muscle strains. Following the December visit two volunteers were badly lacerated by a trolley kicking-back as the load came off and another one had to sleep on the floor for 4 weeks after straining his back!
12/2/07 Retreived three boxes from blasting and picked up a very nice 1950's Postman's jacket (with GviR buttons) from a fellow in Ipswich who had seen the EADT article. In the evening I managed to fit a cabinet lock to the Type R SVM housing which is progressing nicely. The forge are making new retaining plates and stays which will be fitted later this week. Also helped Alan Mattin recover an original Do Not Throw Stones at the Telegraphs sign from a pole in Great Leighs.
Also today I secured some more stamp coils for our SVMs, including a totally untouched Machin multivalue at just a small premium to face value.
2/2/07 After a whilrwind tour of the States during which I got to see the Golden Gate Bridge, The Sears Tower and the Empire State Building from the air, all in 5 days, it was back to Earth again, literally! The earth in question was sort-of supporting our ILB7 lamp box which is on the upper part of a cast iron lamp box pole. However, it was very unstable and so today I dug it out and filled the hole with Post Mix cement. That should prevent it toppling. I also fitted the newly acquired Tidings Hill CP to one of the appropriate lamp boxes, the LB217 I think, and stripped down the Type R SVM housing which earlier in the day I had retreived from the forge following a small repair. This will be fully restored pending mating with the special B type pillar box mounting which is kindly being donated from the Isle of White Post Box Museum; thank you Arthur! This will save a lot of time and expense trying to adapt an A size bracket to fit a B size box. Not content with all that, we also collected 4 more AA village signs today, bringing our collection up to 15 so far. They were Hollesley, Cople, Bircham Newton and Bergh Apton. In addition, I found out this week that we won Duloe at auction.
27/1/07 Well as I jetted off to Palm Springs, CA for a trade show, I got the news from my irate wife that the EADT peice has been published. It was in the Saturday magazine and ran to three pages with pictures. Irate because she was then innundated with calls from well-wishers wanting to donate long cherished objects to the Museum! So far, of course, I don't know what these artefacts are, so have no idea if we can accomodate them. No doubt all will be revealed on my return next week.
26/1/07 Some last-minute late night negotiation ahead of a local privately-owned box listing on Ebay secured our one and only Halstead enamel collection plate. It's for Tidings Hill and also mentions the long gone SPO at Neal Road. Very nice. Just finished packing for the States visit in time to go and collect it.
25/1/7 East Anglian Daily Times photographer came round again today for more odd-ball shots. Apparently it's going in this weekend. Should be interesting....
21/1/07 The Hillday Type B52 SVM was successfully mounted on the side of the Gibbs Type K pillar box this weekend. It was a complex job as the SVM is very heavy and the bracket requires 8mm holes to be drilled in the side of the pillar box. It does look fantasatic however. Picture on the Elizabeth II page.
This became possible through the good offices of Laurence Rudolph, who sold me the necessary specially shaped bracket. The way it works is that the Hillday machine comes in a Type U case which has six holes in three rows on one side. These are 6mm clearance holes. The bracket is tapped 6mm and these, of course, line up. On the curved side of the bracket are another six holes, but in different positions. These are much bigger, around 8mm. You put the bracket up against the side of your post box and mark where to drill through these holes. Then you drill through 3/4" of cast iron an 8mm clearance hole - no mean feat! The difficulty comes in supporting first the bracket, whilst you mark the holes, and later the SVM itself which weighs about 60Kg, while you try to thread the 6mm bolts through it.
Needless to say I snapped several drill bits doing this. Then the old drill burnt out (it was knackered anyway) so I had to go and buy a new more powerful one ((1kW) Good excuse for new toy...) and then I found the bolts were too short, but the shop was by then, closed. The new drill and Tungsten tipped bit made short work of the K type casting though. A local farmer/philatelist friend came over Sunday morning and bought a large selection of bolts with him, from which I got 6 x 8mm x 40mm which is what it needed. Then I had to find a way to support the weight of the SVM while I lined it up with the box and frame. This was the hardest part as I balanced it on two planks on two bricks on top of a workmate! It was 2mm too low, so several bits of scarp cardboard had to be added before I could get the first bolt in place. Once you have one in, it's a lot easier, although the supporting surface was not perpendicular to the box, so I had to splay the workmate legs a bit with liberal application of the boot to drop the rear of the SVM down until I could feel the thread engage. All this has to be done with the SVM mech swung out of the case and in your face, as it is nigh impossible to remove it from the case and get it back in again. Anyway, by 3.30pm I had all six bolts in place and felt confident enough to "launch" my new vessel by kicking away the supporting chocks. At this point I had no idea if it would topple over as the K was on the kink a bit on the patio. As it happens, it was stable, but for safety I "walked" it round 90 degrees so the SVM is on the "uphill" side of the slant. I touched in the scuffed yellow transfer for "stamps" and washed down the K type, which picks up green algae from the roof. The result is what you see, and I have to say, I'm very pleased with it!
15/1/07 I dropped in on Alan Mattin and picked up the promised SVM to Pillar bracket. Unfortunately, both the brackets we have now are for A size pillars. One of these can be used on our K type pillar which is the same diameter as an A, but as it is a 1980 design it will have to have a more modern SVM, probably the U housing with Type H booklet vend mech. The original 1936 design housing with B4 mech will need a heavily modified bracket if it is to be fitted to our GR B pillar. More work for the Forge!
11/1/07 Today we had a visit from Steven Russell, reporter with the East Anglian Daily Times. The interview lasted about an hour and was very wide ranging. After a photographer has been over, the article should appear in the EADT.
6/1/07 Phew! What a start to the year! It has rained most of the week and the ground is a quagmire, limiting what we can do. Thursday night I picked up a B4 1d stamp machine with a Type R housing to fit it to a postbox from a collector in London. It was sold as "in working order" but a quick inspection revealed a lot of impact damage. It had also been stored in a dirty wet place, lots of filth and corrosion. I was not going to be defeated by this however as I've wanted a Penny mech for ages. So most of Friday night was spent stripping it down, liberal application of magical WD40 and the Birmingham screwdriver! I have now re-assembled it and repaired as much of it as possible, but it will never work properly. The main gear and pinion have taken a heavy blow from something and are way out of true; too corroded on the spindle to get it off too. So it will have to be cosmetic for now. This means I'll probably put the B4 1p (decimal) mech in the housing when it is fitted to the GR PB27 pillar.
As the sun threatened to come through on Sunday afternoon and the wind had dried off the ground a little it seemed a good idea to put up our recently acquired Marsham Post Office title sign. This meant moving three older signs around on the front of the building to accomodate the new big one. I think it looks better, more authentically like an SPO and you can see the results on the new splash screen on the Home page.
31/12/06 Some more visitors to the Museum this week, including John Wells bearing gifts - pictures on the Railwayana pages soon! We had 2897 visitors to this site during December - a new record and still climbing. The GR B wall box has been stripped of fittings ready for blasting this week.
20/12/06 Site optimisation now underway, site map added.
14/12/06 Finally got around to posting some more stuff on the second SVM page, including detail shots of notice plates and in situ mechs. Who knows, at this rate I might finish the Kiosks essay by Christmas!
12/12/06 Today I finished rebuilding the LWB172 Ludlow (EiiR with large enamel plate). This is a composite box made up from spare parts from around the country, but it does look good. Whilst searching for a new wallbox lock to put on it, I came across a right-hand wallbox lock. Now all of our boxes are left-hand locking so I have no idea what this lock was for, other than, perhaps a Carpenter's box or a box in a Crown Office.
05/12/06 I thought we should add the English Heritage/Royal Mail policy on postboxes to the Links section. It's a PDF download so you'll need Acrobat to view it. It's just a shame that it is being flouted widely.
29/11/06 Today we collected a second load of (mostly damaged) postboxes from the RM store. This was hard work but yeilded some interesting boxes which will addGR Type D and B wall boxes to the collection and provide several boxes for the Herts & Essex and IoW collections. Unfortunately. I'm now limping badly as the trolley took a chunk out of my leg during the operation.
26/11/06 It is quite rare for us to get a visitor in the "close season" but today was an exception. In atrocious weather we greeted Scott Thomson, patron of PositivelyPostal, for his first visit to the Museum. It had been raining hard all day, but Scott must have the ear of Him Upstairs as the skies cleared and the sun shone during the time he was wading through the quagmire that is the garden today. No sooner had he returned to whence he came and the heavens opened once more! It was great to meet Scott and we had a good old chat about all things postal!
10/11/06 New page added to the Features Index showing the closure of Halstead Crown Post Office.
8/11/06 A sad day for Halstead as our Crown Post Office was closed by Post Office Ltd following a sham "consultation" in which a fait accompli was presented to the Townsfolk. A full service of commemorative Last Day Covers was provided by the Museum inside the condemmed Post Office. 105 covers and 30 postcards were serviced with the Halstead Post Office CDS before the door closed at 3pm. We then had great fun recovering the two lozenges, as the bolts were very rusty. One sheared and we had to result to a hacksaw which made for quite a sight as Terry Macavoy hacked through the rusty bolt perched on an 8ft step ladder in growing darkness in the middle of the High Street! With both signs recovered we returned to the Museum to clean them before presenting one to Alan Mattin for his collection. In exchange we received a very nice Green Line E plate for our LT Bus Stop.
7/11/06 Three new Ludlows added to the Tour courtesy of Gerry Cork - South Harting, Petersfield & Lyeminster. We got a call from RM Halstead to say that we can have one of the lozenges when it closes.
6/11/06 A large quantity of GPO paperwork was today donated by a retired Halstead Postie and we received the Last Day covers ready for Wednesday 8th - the Last Day of the Halstead Crown Office.
28/10/06 After a good meeting with Dave Cox last week (in a dodgy layby off the A22!), I received a lot more useful info about stamp machines. Much of this has now been included in an improved SVM page and a new supplementary page devoted to a 1960 account of the history of SVMs in Britain. I picked up a GR cast iron Do Not Throw Stones plate from Bonhams in Knowle. It is for the larger size telegraph pole, but a useful addition to the collection.
20/10/06 Some you lose - we lost Kessingland AA sign in an Ebay auction, which with it's Suffolk connections was a shame; But Some you win - we won the rare Colchester sign instead which is even more appropriate for our Essex-based museum. Both signs added to the site together with the cleaned and restored Great Marlow sign we acquired earlier this month. Langford and Sherborne St John will be joining the collection soon.
13/10/06 Dave Cox visited us from Southport and bought lots of interesting goodies, not least of which were a second G2 SVM and a 1p B4 SVM. The G2 is set for 5p coins which will match with our type U housing, but missing an actuator arm. We are having one made using the one we currently have as a pattern. The B4 mech was most welcome and is now in the cut-down Type K Mk1 case we acquired from Laurence Rudolf at the Summer LBSG Open Day.
1/10/06 The Railwayana section has now been uploaded. Today we had a group of visitors from the Street Jewellry Society.
29/9/06 Newick E Suusex added to Ludlows courtesy of Paul Snelling.
24/9/06 Luss,Strathclyde added to Ludlow tour, courtesy of Alice Moreland via David Hunt.
19/9/06 Just got in to Shanghai and with a fast internet connection in the hotel, updated the site with four more AA signs from the recent Beaulieu autojumble, courtesy of Tony Philips, and a replica of the first 1906 sign from DG models. Also added a lot more detail about the various types on show.
13/9/06 Today I received an answer to my written query to HRH Prince of Wales office about future Regnal title and style of cipher. But I'm not allowed to tell you what was said. Sorry.
11/9/06 I spoke to Solihull Philatelic Society and had a good evening with plenty of questions from around 30 members present.
9/9/06 A remarkable start to Heritage Open Days was the unexpected arrival of an LB217 front casting and door. These were in very bad repair having been involved in a traffic accident. However, enough parts survive to enable us to fit a back and make up a reasonable box. The aperture upshoot is largely missing, but the box does show all the important features of its type. No sooner had I squirreled it away in the workshop for later attention, than another visitor asked if we were still collecting boxes! When I said "Yes" she immediately offered to donate an unwanted box. It turned out to be the wooden NSB335 from the HQ of the British Red cross in Chelmsford. It is very interesting when compared with our own Cornish hotel box. They are clearly from the same manufacturer but show many interesting design differences. Both are now repainted and on display. Work on the Edward VIII door continues with tablet and CP now fitted and cipher gilded. 75 people turned up for the Open Days, a good number enhanced by fine weather. 10 of these were LBSG members.
4/9/06 Well it's been a busy Summer! We have recently collected three more AA Village signs from Derbyshire and lost out on one on Ebay (Mary Tavy). A lot of work on the stamp machines has seen the Type A coil machine loaded with a genuine 1d blue Wilding coil, in fact it's a graphite lined coil. Rather nice. Another machine has been brought back into use for 1 booklets and a new Type K Mk1 housing has arrived and begun restoration. We are slowly gearing up for HODS this weekend. Press Releases have gone out and we got mentioned in Best of British and bizarrely, in Air Union's in flight magazine. Never heard of them? Not surprising really, they are based in Vladivostock and the article was in Russian!. The NSB328 from Northampton Hospital was given a full strip down and repaint this week, not before time, and we added out 79th box the W T Allen "& Co" B wall box (WB155/1). We already have the WB115/3 "& Co Ltd" so this makes a nice comparison. The CP will be Queensway, rather fitting for an E2R box. Work has also started to bring the raw PB33 E8R door casting into use. I only broke two drill bits when I fitted the tablet holder and the plate frame, so next job is the lock holes! This will be on display as part of our Year of the Three Kings display. for HODS
15/8/06 Lots of pictures added to AA signs, Ludlow tour of Britain and elsewhere. Also new pics from my visit to Hong Kong last week, including SVMs. It was very wet, windy and disappointing to see so few Colonial boxes left. Most have been replaced by 'Singapore AA' pattern tin boxes. We had the West Bergholt Historical Society over for an evening visit this week which was very pleasant.
1/8/06 We got an excellent review of this website in the British Philatelic Bulletin.
15/7/06 A lot of work to get everything sorted out on the site following the Open Day. We have 75 AA signs on the page now including new photographs of all those which came to the Open Day. Two new signs showed up this week - the early Post Office for Money Orders sign, without telegraph or annuity and a suberb AA garage hanging sign. The later was an unexpected find at Solopark near Cambridge. I spoke to Stisted WI on Thursday and the Ladies would like a visit next year.
9/7/06 We had a very successful LBSG Open Day - see the special page here.
24/06/06 On Monday we had the Rotary Club of Sudbury Talbot in the garden and on Wednesday I spoke to Badingham W I (again - this is almost an annual event!). We were successful this week in bidding for two more AA village signs on Ebay. This led to the offer of two more, thereby bringing the collection up to seven in total. Only one of the new ones, Gt. Gransden, is on site. It is being treated for rust and will then go on display. I hope to have Codnor here in time for the LBSG open day and the other two before Heritage Open Days.
14/06/06 Several updated pictures added to the site reflecting the recent sunny weather. Construction of the Telephone Kiosk essay proceeds apace.
22/5/06 Today we received a visit from Braintree WI and despite the rain, all our visitors seemed to enjoy it. In addition the ex-RM ILB 8 lamp box arrived. This is the W T Allen 1940 pattern lamp box with no cipher or Post Office on it. Although this one was clearly used in the Croydon area for many years (it is dated 1960 inside) it will be restored to An Post livery to represent the more widespread use of the type in Eire.
12/5/06 More signs added to the site. The AA village and Triangular warning signs were both put up on the wall in recent days.
29/4/06 Today we received a working Hillday Type B52 SVM. It was locked shut, so Greg Leary and I spent a couple of hours getting it open and replacing the lock. After a bit of fiddling it seems to work and brings our SVM collection right up to date. This one is dated 1994 and was taken out of service last year.
23/4/06 A new addition is the AA village sign for Ottery St Mary. Together with a triangular Cross Roads AA sign these will be up shortly. To celebrate I posted six more AA village signs on the page taking us up to to 47 so far... Also added E2R Ludlow at Oddington to the Tour of Britain.
18/4/06 Added the excellent Perfect State of Flatby "Cinderellas" to the stamp section. Latest AA sign arrived for restoration ("Crossroads").
11/4/06 Feedback form added
9/4/06 I spent most of today recovering from our family trip to Brussels on Eurostar yesterday; great stuff! Whistling through Kent at 186mph and the wine in my glass still like a millpond... Anyway I thought I'd take it easy today and get the Wivenohe box back together. The bottom cast beading was heavily corroded, so got the grinder out to see if I could rescue it. I had to lose a lot of material, but did free up all three screws and after anti-rust treatment it is now refitted. The Post Office casting has been broken for some years, so that had to come off. I replaced it with a copy made by Rayne Foundry (RIP) some years ago. Some internal woodwork was missing, but I was able to replace that too. It actually went back together rather well and has now received a fresh coat of paint. In deference to it's original location in the Tendring Hundred, it will receive the plate from Little Clacton S.O. in due course.
Working on the LWB 160/2 reminded me just how poor our small E2R Ludlow is (LWB173/1). I took it over to the carpenter this evening and asked him to replace all the rotted wood and manufacture new beading for the bottom. He's been in a car crash this week, so it could take some time to see this one again. I also found time to wash down and then erect the West Moors PO lozenge I collected from Newbury two weeks ago, It is at right-angles to our Northaw SPO lozenge on the same corner of the house and looks rather good!
5/4/06 Lots more SVMs put up on the site following a visit to the LBSG Spring Meeting in Sherborne and Inkpen Museum.Pics of Gavin Finnie's K Mk1 and Sutton Bridge K Mk2 SVM from Trevor Whitehead. David James' Type A SVM is superb, photos on the SVM2 page. Just heard that we are going to get the Ludlow ex-Wivenhoe Cross in Essex. This is a long door E2R (WB160/2) with recessed plate holder. Its a mess, as usual, but comes with lock and key. Pics on the Ludlows page soon.
23/03/06 Cleobury Mortimer Ludlow added to Ludlow Tour of Britain courtesy of Val Scott, LBSG.
18/3/06 Updated various photographs to reflect changed collection plates. Revision of E2R Lamp Box section with additional pictures.
14/03/06 Our new POD 1200 arrived today and was quickly fitted to the VR PB15. To celebrate I've added a feature on PODS to the site. We also got the superb Edwardian collection plate for Sea Lane North Hunstanton today and fitted it to the WB90.
11/3/06 A film crew from German TV station DW-World showed up to film scenes for EuroMaxx. The theme is the EH Icons website, where you can vote for your favourite icon of British life. The programme will go out in English at 20.30 on Thursday 16th March and can be viewed on Sky Digital or via the web at www.DW-World.de
5/3/6 New section on Street Jewelltry added to site, AA School sign put on wall. Also repainted the PB27 today and cleaned up the POD. Gilded the ILB5.
3/3/06 Our latest AA road sign just arrived from deepest Welsh Wales. It's a rare triangular AA & MU School warning sign. I will post a picture when I finish restoring it.
.2/3/06 Spent most of today cleaning and refurbishing the POD fitted to the GvR pillar and cleaning the cap of the EviiR Pillar ready to accept the newly restored "Telephone POD sign". I suppose it ought to be a TDS or Telephone Direction Sign. Anyway, it looks great after an LBSG member kindly donated a broken POD base and the local forge made a new bracket to our specification. I was going to fit it to the GvR PB27, but the bolt on the POD is seized, so I settled for the EviiR PB20 instead. I rubbed down and repainted the PB27 cap as it gets covered in birdsh*t under the tree, which eats away the paint. Must get more cats!
8/2/06 The anonymoys pillar is now painted a nd fitted with a lock and plate - No.7 High St. It looks great!
6/2/06 LB219/2 fitted with new back and painted red
1/1/06 Basic site goes live. Only about half the boxes are on and there are no Features yet.
30/12/05 The site is under construction.