Happy Feet!

21st May

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Not being a driver I don’t generally get to the  Royal Mail sorting office out at Dorcan. But recently I was there with someone else and was pleasantly surprised to see this artwork on the perimeter fence.

Now I’ve searched and searched on Google for some more information about this artwork and its creators but I’ve   drawn a blank. So all I have to offer is what’s on the signage:

“This design depicts the four horses of the first mail coach racing over the Downland surrounding Swindon. It is based on the ancient chalk horse cut above Uffington and is made up from a postman’s footprints”

I like it. I think it’s interesting and rather clever. And it definitely brightens up a dull, utilitarian perimeter fence.

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And a couple of pictures courtesy of Debs Donkersley:

Origins and the first mail coach:

“When a public postal service was first introduced in 1635, letters were carried between ‘posts’ by mounted post-boys and delivered to the local postmaster. The postmaster would then take out the letters for his area and hand the rest to another post-boy to carry them on to the next ‘post’. This was a slow process and the post-boys were an easy target for robbers, but the system remained unchanged for almost 150 years.

John Palmer, a theatre owner from Bath, had organised a rapid carriage service to transport actors and props between theatres and he believed that a similar scheme could improve the postal service. In 1782, Palmer sold his theatre interests, and went to London to lobby The Post Office. Despite resistance from senior Post Office staff, who believed the speed of the mail could not be improved, William Pitt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, accepted the idea. An experimental mail coach journey, undertaken at Palmer’s expense, started from Bristol on 2 August 1784, at 4pm. It reached London at 8am the next day, exactly on schedule. A journey that had taken up to 38 hours now took just 16.”

Read more here: http://www.postalheritage.org.uk/explore/history/mail-coaches/

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