Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Posting mail service on Brisbane trams - 1894

Interesting article on people being able to post stamps on Brisbane trams!

Telegraph (Brisbane), Friday 1 June 1894, page 4

Posting on Tram Cars,Great Public Convenience. A New Method of Collecting Correspondence

Some months since the superintendent of mails through the Under Secretary suggested to the Postmaster-General, the Hon. W. H. Wilson, the notion of making use of the tram cars as receptacles for all articles of correspondence, and as the means of convoying them from the suburbs, and those parts of the city through which the trains run to the chief post office.

The advantages claimed for the proposed system are, that while the pillar boxes were available for letters only, the posting bags; which by the way are quite unique to history of the post office, could be used for not only letters, but also for any article of correspondence that would go into the openings provided, and that the posting of newspapers would be greatly facilitated by so largely increasing the number of posting places for them, and making them movable; in fact, by taking the receptacle to the doors of the people who reside on or near the tram routes, instead of compelling everyone to walk to a more or less distant posting-box.
There was also the fact that instead of the correspondence so posted having to wait in the box for the comparatively infrequent visits of the boys whoso duty it was to clear them of their contents and convoy the letters, etc., to the post office, tho round of the boxes of itself occupying a considerable time, it would reach the office within a very few minutes of posting, and most likely within a few minutes more be on its way to its destination; and the very circumstance that it was proposed to use, locked bags, and thus save the contents from being handled outside the post office, was an additional recommendation to most of the people using the posting places provided.

The Postal Department would gain by the new system, as it provided an easy, and the least costly method of carrying postal matter from all parts of the city and suburbs to the post office.

Mr. Wilson, who has had a long and practical acquaintance with the working of the post office, at once saw the advantages of this new method, and warmly approved of the idea, but the stringent economy enforced by the condition of the Treasury compelled him to defer action. The time has, however, now arrived when the Postmaster-General feels justified in appropriating the necessary funds to provide increased facilities for posting, and thus utilising the tramcar, and yesterday afternoon Mr. Wilson personally inaugurated the system by posting the first letter in the first receptacle affixed to a tramcar for posting purposes in Australasia. This morning the posting bags on the trams are available for all. To this first tramcar that passed the General Post Office after 7.30 a.m. a bag was attached, and all cars passing after that time and up to 5 p.m. have bags affixed and removed every time they pass the post office by the boys employed for that purpose. The bags that have made a trip are opened in the post office by the official who has the key, the contents are removed and are stamped by a special stamp, showing the hours, half hours, and quarters when the bags are received; the bag is again locked and given to the boys to be affixed for another collecting journey.

The bags are of best canvas and have a metal top something like the top of a fishing basket. In this is the aperture for posting, which is protected from the weather by a cover. Lifting this, the opening is seen to be secured by a metal plate hinged to the underside of the top, and kept in place by a spring. On this plate is painted "Push," and following this direction the opening is disclosed, and the plate being released is forced back again into its place by the spring. The tops were made by a Brisbane firm from the design of the superintendent of mails, and the bags were completed at the Lytton Reformatory.

The complete bag looks serviceable, and is neat and apparently well adapted for the purpose for which it is to be used. As the bags will be in charge of the drivers, or conductors of the cars, who will remove them from end to end of the cars as may be necessary, and also constantly under the supervision of the travelling public, no attempts to interfere with them are apprehended, but at the same time it may be as well to intimate that a penalty of £5 is provided by law for the offence of tampering with any posting receptacle, the property of the Postmaster-General.

The following is a copy of the letter alluded to as posted by Mr. Wilson:

Post and Telegraph Department, Brisbane, May 31, 1894.

My Dear Nelson, — I have some satisfaction in informing you that I have made a new departure in the establishment of a tram mail service whereby letters can be posted on the tramcars; also other mail matter. The trams will stop opposite the General Post Office, in transit, and the letter-bags will be exchanged by a boy told off for that purpose. I believe it will be a great public convenience and amply justify its introduction. This is the first letter posted under the new system. I hope the public will show the appreciation of the new service by making extensive use of it. Ordinary postage only is chargeable. Yours, etc.,

W. Horatio Wilson,

The Hon; H. M. Nelson; Premier, etc.