Orford, Alderton, Bawdsey

There is a definite emphasis on ex-Post Offices on this page covering three towns/villages on the east coast between Felixstowe and Aldeburgh.

Orford, Pump Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Orford 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Orford 22017 images
The empty shop at no. 55 Pump Street carries on the adjoining house wall a typical enamel sign: 'ORFORD POST OFFICE' in large and small caps. A picture frame has been added at some point to add a touch of class.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Orford 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Orford 4
The town pump stands in a green space in Pump Street, close to the post office and is well-maintained, but years of overpainting have choked the casting mark.

We learn the following from the Village pumps website (see Links).
'Joseph Evans & Sons (Wolverhampton) Ltd, was founded in 1810 and traded until about 1964, having been acquired by Newman Industries in 1944. The company had depots in Cardiff, Sheffield, Manchester, Glasgow and Newcastle-on-Tyne, and examples of their pumps are scattered widely around the UK and indeed further afield. The company used a number of trademarks before settling on a lion rampant. From about 1890 they used the lion rampant trademark on all of their pumps, with the word "LION" written beneath. Many carry the message "Made in England", some add "Evans Wolverhampton".
On the Orford pump: 'Note that the spout is connected to the working barrel below ground level and emerges separately, which probably implies a lift and force pump. Essentially identical models also seen at Perranwell, Cornwall and Lamerton, Devon.'

The Orford pump casting mark is clearly a lion rampant and the cartouche below would have carried the word "LION' (unreadable). However, the plate below this doesn't seem to have been lettered.

Alderton, The Street (B1083)
This small village on the Bawdsey road has a public house called the Swan, close to the church. Tales of smuggling abound in the area and the true story of Margaret Catchpole and her efforts to save her lover, Will Laud – a smuggler, has much of its action around the village of Alderton.
Just along the road from the pub and almost opposite the village shop can be found this sign:

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Alderton 1  
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Alderton 2
Money order
A money order is a payment order for a pre-specified amount of money. As it is required that the funds be prepaid for the amount shown on it, it is a more trusted method of payment than a cheque. The money order system was established by a private firm in Great Britain in 1792 and was expensive and not very successful. Around 1836 it was sold to another private firm which lowered the fees, significantly increasing the popularity and usage of the system. The Post Office noted the success and profitability, and it took over the system in 1838. Fees were further reduced and usage increased further, making the money order system reasonably profitable. The only draw-back was the need to send an advance to the paying post office before payment could be tendered to the recipient of the order. This drawback was probably the primary incentive for establishment of the Postal Order System on 1 January 1881.

The General Post Office
The story of the General Post Office dates back to its formation under Charles II (1660). An organisation which grew over time, adapted to new technologies (telegraph and telephone communication) with a national network of post offices and sub-post offices. It even had an early role in regulating broadcasting. Banking: The Post Office Savings Bank was introduced in 1861, when there were few banks outside major towns. By 1863, 2,500 post offices were offering a savings service. Gradually more financial services were offered by post offices, including government stocks and bonds in 1880, insurance and annuities in 1888, and war savings certificates in 1916. In 1909 old age pensions were introduced, payable at post offices. In 1956 a lottery bond called the Premium Bond was introduced. In the mid-1960s the GPO was asked by the government to expand into banking services which resulted in the creation of the National Giro. In 1969, the Post Office Savings Bank was transferred to the Treasury, and renamed National Savings. Splitting up, privatisation and diminution of the Post Office continued after its high point. The British Telecommunications Act, 1981 split off  that part to form British Telecom). As part of the Postal Services Act 2000, the businesses of the Post Office were transferred in 2001 to a public limited company, 'Consignia plc', which was quickly renamed Royal Mail Holdings plc. The government became the sole shareholder in Royal Mail Holdings plc and its subsidiary Post Office Ltd. Finally, on 5 April 2007, the government published the Dissolution of the Post Office Order 2007, under which the old Post Office statutory corporation was formally abolished with effect from 1 May 2007.

All of this makes little mention of the importance of the post office as a meeting-place, a communication centre for remote villages and towns, giving identity within the national network. Huge numbers of closures of post offices have resulted in their complete removal or, if the inhabitants are fortunate, placing small counters within shops. The emphasis, in the 21st century has been heavily on selling and income generation for each sub-post office, rather than public service. It is instructive that the last line of the sign advertises 'Insurance and Annuity Business' at the original Alderton Post Office. It is encouraging that the house owner maintains this enamelled metal sign, already starting to rust.

[Note also the 'Brown's of Ipswich' sign shown on our JBO lost signs page, spotted on a barn at Buckanay Farm near Alderton village.]

Bawdsey wall box ('E VIII R')
The village of Bawdsey near the mouth of the River Deben has another  former sub-post office shop. Connoisseurs make the pilgrimage to the main street to see the Edward VIII Ludlow wall-box. Edward VIII was King of the U.K. and Commonwealth for less than a year and he abdicated before his coronation, in order to marry the American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. He was later better known as the Duke of Windsor, living with his wife in Paris. The story has links to the County Hall court in St Helens Street, Ipswich where Simpson's decree nisi from her second husband was granted and a house (now demolished) at Felixstowe Undercliff where she hid away from the press during this legal process. Coins minted with the new king's profile and wall-boxes bearing his crest are very rare. This information came from a Flickr image of the box: 'Following the Abdication Crisis in late 1936, resentment and bad feeling led to the removal or exchange of many of the doors of these boxes. Today none exists in their original form, save for one Ludlow wall-box at Bawdsey in Suffolk. Unfortunately the original enamel plate on this box was stolen and the plate seen on the box today is a modern replica. According to the guidebook of St Mary's church, uniquely the Bawdsey box has the cipher of the King's Crown and initials that appear on no other post-box.'


It would be easy to walk past this box and, in glancing at it, assume that it was made in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, as the Roman numerals 'VIII' below the royal crown are inconspicuous.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bawdsey post box 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bawdsey post box 22019 images
See our Street furniture page for more about Ludlow post boxes.

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