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The Clyde from the Source to the Sea
Chapter V. Postal Services


The amount of work got through by a post-office should be a good indication of the business character of the town or city in which it is established, and the Glasgow post-office is an excellent illustration of the rapid progress of the city from time to time; and as showing the extent of the resources of this establishment we find a volume published by the post-office officials in 1887 and called The Queens Head, from which we can gather at a glance a great deal of valuable information about the rise and progress of postal work in Glasgow.

It appears that in 1695 the Scottish Parliament established a letter post, and for a time the letters were wholly conveyed on foot. In the year 1711 one post-office system for both England and Scotland was established. The first direct London and Glasgow mail was established by coach in 1788. Apparently the first Glasgow post-office was started in the year 1787, over one hundred years ago. It was situated in Princes Street, and looking at a copy of the first Glasgow Directory we find that the staff consisted of five persons, viz.: a postmaster, a head-clerk, an under-clerk, a letter-carrier, and another whose functions are not stated. After some changes of place, in 1810 the post-office was situated in Nelson Street, and citizens still living can recall their delight as hoys when seeing the mail-coach arrive in the Trongate, and the important guard get off his perch, pull out his mail-hags, and walk up Nelson [Street to the office, the pistols or blunderbusses which were his companions on the road being he held with proper respect hy the onlookers.

In 1840 a removal was made to Glassford Street, where many can remember the piazza or arcade front to the street. This was a marked period in postal history, as in this year the uniform penny postage came into operation and postage stamps were first used.1 In 1857 the post-office found its present home in George Square.

The following interesting tabular statement of the staff is given in The Queens Head:

The number of letters now dealt with is about 2,500,000 weekly. The revenue is 380,000, and expenditure 107,000. Besides ordinary letter work, post-offices have not only to deal with money-orders, &rc., but with all kinds of parcels since the introduction of the parcel-post system, and with telegraph messages.


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