Mobile Post Office
"…Fully justified on prestige and other grounds."
Post Office comment on the introduction of the Mobile Post Office Service
During the 1930s the Post Office decided that there was a need for the provision of telegraph, telephone and postal facilities at special events. It was felt that an 'office on wheels' would best meet this need, at race meetings and shows held at various locations around the country.
The need for manoeuvrability, safety, space and economy dictated an articulated vehicle. The towing unit was a Morris Commercial Leader 3 ton tractor unit. This was given the registration index 'GPO 1' (these particular letters were allocated to the Post Office for use on 'special' vehicles).
The lines of the tractor and purpose-built trailer delibrately complemented each other. Painted in red and black, the mouldings and monogram were picked out in gold.
Much attention was paid to the fittings of the trailer. There were three windows for transactions at the postal and telegraph counters on the nearside of the vehicle. The 'office on wheels' was equipped with two telephone cabinets, a generator, teleprinter, counter, stamp machines, letter chute and mail bags.
GPO 1 made its first appearance at the Marden and District Commercial Fruit Show near Tonbridge, Kent between 6-8 October 1936. It was an immediate success; the introduction of a second Mobile Post Office was approved.
During the Second World War the two MPOs were transferred to war service. After the war, a third MPO was introduced with a Morris FF unit using the GPO registration.
Despite Seddon tractors replacing the earlier Morris towing vehicles in 1957, the earlier vehicles were becoming worn out. Three caravan-type trailers, each towed by a Karrier Gamecock tender, were introduced in the early 1970s. The introduction of permanent telephone kiosks at racecourses and other locations coincided with a declining need for their presence and the three offices only appeared spasmodically by 1985.
A new type of Mobile Post Office entered service in 1984. This was a 'mega-unit' that could function both as a Post Office, complete with service counter, but also as an exhibition area with separate hospitality suite. You can see the concept design drawing below. Although the mega-unit could be moved, its overall impression was more of a building than a vehicle.
There has been a resurgence in Mobile Post Offices since 1996, when a smaller type of van entered service. Instead of visiting events and shows, these green-liveried vehicles visit a number of towns on a regular basis. They bring Post Office Counter services to the public following closure of a local Post Office.
Advertising booklet for MPO, 1937
Collecting mail from Welsh MPO
Design drawing for mega unit MPO
Modern MPO serving a customer