Southwold's Letter Carrier Service
Our first Letter Carrier was recorded in 1723 and was appointed by Southwold Corporation to serve to and from ‘Blyborrow’. Starting from 1803 the town was served by a succession of Letter Carriers (on foot) or Mail Carts from Wangford which was on the main mail-coach route. Until the mid 19th century, there was no post office as such in Southwold so the Wangford letter carriers had to deliver mail personally to the addressees. By the 1840s Southwold had acquired its own post office at No 12 Queen Street, run by the former Wangford Postmistress, widow, Mary Bye. It was her job to appoint and employ the mail cart driver. At first this was her son but he became ill and died. He was followed by a succession of carriers, each of whom (according to diarist, James Maggs) proved to be unreliable drunks. Even four decades later there continued to be problems with Southwold's letter carriers. In 1885 one of them absconded with a number of valuable items. The man was apprehended later in Woodbridge.
In the latter part of the century the Mail Cart driver carried a bugle, or post-horn which he sounded on his approach to Southwold. The one featured below and displayed in the museum was donated to the Southwold Postman in 1872. It didn't endear him to all the town's inhabitants. A correspondent who identified himself as ‘A light sleeper’ wrote to the Ipswich Journal in 1883 complaining of ‘the unearthly music caused by the mailcart driver, who blows a horn somewhere about 5 a.m. I understand it is to wake the Postmaster, but as this blowing takes place nearly 400 yards from the Post Office, the man might blow for ever without producing the desired effect.’