As you can imagine, Christmas is the busiest time of year for the Royal Mail. They have to employ an additional 20,000 staff just to cope with the extra deliveries required during the festive season. It’s quite a challenge being so busy, so even more challenging is dealing with some of the strange things that people post. Here are some of the strangest things to be sent through the UK postal service:
The Parcel Post began in 1883 with Royal Mail sending the first packages and it didn’t take long for things to begin getting weird!
In the early days of the postal service, the rules over what could be posted were much more relaxed. This meant that many items considered dangerous or dubious were often intercepted. Bizarrely, many items you would think couldn’t be delivered were actually accepted by postmen, such as both dead and living animals.
Food was a common parcel, but it was often sent unpackaged as the rules of the time stated things like game could be posted as long as it had an address label on it and it wouldn’t leak! Even living creatures were put in the post, which was often against regulations and proved quite hazardous for those making the delivery! A news article of the 1890s tells of a jar of lice scorpions having to be examined by postal staff!
Weirdly, there were no rules about posting people in the beginning. In 1909, two suffragettes made the most of the same-day courier service on offer by the Royal Mail and posted themselves to Downing Street to personally deliver their message to the then Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. For less extreme Same Day Courier Services, visit allaboutfreight.co.uk/same-day-courier-service
In a hilarious twist, an official at Downing Street refused to sign for them and so the poor delivery boy had to return the women and explain why he’d failed to make a delivery.
They were not the first human letters though. Reginald Bray from London posted himself in 1900, 1903 and 1932. He was an eccentric, pushing the limits of what the postal service would accept, and he certainly wasn’t the only person in the Victorian era to test the postal system.
He bought a copy of the official Post Office Guide and took advantage of a loophole. Bray read that live creatures could be posted as long as they were bigger than a bee but smaller than an elephant. Well, that leaves a lot of room for interpretation!