MOBILE POST OFFICES
The use of Mobile Post Offices in the UK falls in three main categories and periods of time.
From 1936 to 1939, postal, telephone and telegraph services were provided from a specially fitted-out trailer, the Mobile Post Office – later referred to as MPO1, as a second trailer entered service in 1938 as MPO2. These articulated vehicles were deployed at race meetings, agricultural shows and other events. The use of the MPOs was suspended during the Second World War, but resumed in 1947. MPO3 was introduced in 1950, and all three attended numerous events until the 1980s. The events and locations attended between 1936 and 1974, as far as they are known, are recorded in four tables which can be downloaded using the following links:
- Mobile Post Office deployment 1936-1939
- Mobile Post Office deployment 1947-1955
- Mobile Post Office deployment 1956-1964
- Mobile Post Office deployment 1965-1974
Details of any additions or amendments would be welcome; please send any information to John Fowler, as shown on the last page of the fourth list.
Each of the three MPOs had its own ‘MOBILE POST OFFICE’ datestamps, which were sometimes used alongside special datestamps provided for the event being attended. Some of those for MPO1 contained no identifying number, while those for MPO2 and MPO3 contained ‘2’ and ‘3’ respectively. Individual datestamps were distinguished by a letter, from A to E.
During WW2, from 1941 to 1945, Post Office facilities in temporary tent-like kiosks were provided for use when PO buildings were destroyed, damaged or inaccessible through enemy action. A large number of datestamps containing ‘MOBILE POST OFFICE’ and a two- or three-digit number were issued, but reports of their use are not numerous.
The third category, in use from 1996 to date, consists of specially fitted out vans which follow a set weekly schedule and visit locations where permanent Post Offices have closed and where no suitable locations are available for ‘Hosted Outreach’ services. They are also used occasionally to provide temporary Post Office services when 'static' POs close suddenly and re-opening or a replacement is awaited. There are now more than 60 Mobile PO services throughout the UK.
An overview of the deployment and characteristics of MPOs by BPS member Alastair Nixon was published in two parts, in the British Postmark Society Journal for October 2018 and January 2019, with further articles likely to follow.
Page updated 11 November 2020