Every Friday we’re inviting our experts and guests to share a letter to something they love linked to the post.

Dear map,

I must admit I am rather fickle. The items I proclaim to love can change day to day. My passions are driven by the stories behind the collections, and what they can tell us about people’s experiences of the post. You may appear rather unassuming at first glance, a predecessor of the modern maps of local attractions displayed in London Underground stations. Yet a closer examination reveals something I find rather exciting – the station this poster was displayed in was called Post Office! The location indicates that this is the station a modern-day commuter would know as St Paul’s, which was known as Post Office from 1900-1937 indicating the dominance of the Post Office in this part of London.

Map Poster for Post Office Station, 1929 (2015-0058)

Map Poster for Post Office Station in detail, 1929 (2015-0058)

I love thinking about all the Post Office buildings which once stood near the station – the Central Telegraph Office, GPO North, and the King Edward Building. You also show a ‘recreation ground’ next to GPO North. Today this area is known as Postman’s Park again reflecting the significance of the Post Office to this area. Another wonderful aspect of Postman’s Park is the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, which commemorates civilians who have died in the service of others. The sense of place imparted by the detail you show is so significant in shaping my connection with this part of London.

General Post Office Headquarters – Postman’s Park, 1937 (POST 118/583)

View of St Martin’s le Grand from South, showing GPO East and corner of GPO West, Early 20th Century (POST 118/17574)

Returning to the Post Office station, I take a moment to reflect how little evidence there is of the Post Office’s past presence in this area. Even the former Central Telegraph Office is now owned by BT, while banks occupy other buildings.

Until I can return to London and the museum, I sign off with love

Helen Dafter


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