Moving the Mail: Horses to Horsepower

"I venture the opinion that no feature of postal or engineering work has undergone such a fundamental change and with such beneficial results to those services …as the method of dealing with the various activities of the Post Office. Motor transport is the agent which has made such changes possible."

Captain A. Hudson, Chief Motor Transport Officer
Post Office Green Paper number 28, 1936

Moving the Mail examines the move from horses to horsepower in the vehicles used by the Post Office. It is based on research done for an exhibition at Coventry Transport Museum between August and October 2006. The exhibition has since gone on tour. You can see the rest of our vehicle collection at our Museum Store on special tours throughout the year.

Image of Introduction


Over 100 years of transport operations have provided lessons on what does and doesn't work.

Image of Timeline - Horses to Horsepower

Timeline - Horses to Horsepower

Key dates in Post Office transport operations - from horses to horsepower.

Image of Post Boys & Mail Coaches

Post Boys & Mail Coaches

Even before the establishment of the Post Office, horses were used to deliver despatches.

Image of Use of horses

Use of horses

The last London-based mail coach ran in 1846, but the use of horses continued for another 100 years.

Image of Early motor vehicles

Early motor vehicles

Prior to World War 1, the Post Office had relied on contractors for its road transport operations.

Image of Cycles


Cycles have been used since the 1880s to increase the speed of deliveries, and the distance covered.

Image of Motorcycles


The Post Office has experimented with many different types of motor cycle.

Image of Telegram Messengers

Telegram Messengers

Motorcycles were ideally suited to the telegram service.

Image of Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles

The Post Office has experimented with electric vehicles for over a hundred years.

Image of Wartime


World Wars 1 and 2 placed a heavy strain on the Post Office's transport fleet.

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