Our latest infographic “a brief history of the postal service” details some of the many changes that have occurred to UK postal services. Some form of postal service has been with us for at least 2500 years. Of course, its initial motive was military – it was essential to carry clear communications across often vast areas and early Western civilisations created fairly complex structures to allow for the smooth carrying of these military orders and reports.
Commercial opportunities of post
It was not long before the commercial possibilities became clear and again these services developed early and provided services for entrepreneurs, businessmen as well as Church and State. The one factor that connected these early mailing services through to early modern Britain was that the services remained relatively expensive and they served the wealthy and the privileged few. The fact that the great revolution in postal history happened at a time of increasing democratisation is not a coincidence.
Rowland Hill and postal reform
That great revolutionary Rowland Hill began to think about reform of postal services in 1835 – just three years after the First Reform Act that widened the franchise for UK elections. The Conservative government was attacked by both John Ramsey McCulloch and Richard Cobden, both men believing passionately in the principles of free trade. In 1833 McCulloch declared that the “safe, speedy and cheap conveyance” of mail was essential to promote commerce in the UK, with no other single factor contributing more. It seems that even then postal services were a political issue.
Significant milestones in UK postal history
Postal orders were introduced to the UK in 1881 and became an effective way to pay for goods through the post. The Parcel post service was introduced two years later in 1883.
It was only in 1968 that a two-tier postage class system was introduced with the arrival of the second-class stamp. Prior to this only one standard service was available.
In 2006 the Royal Mail lost their monopoly position within the UK postal market. This opened up, significant savings for postage, which bakergoodchild pass on to clients today through arrangements with the lowest cost provider for a given postal scenario.
There have been many changes over the years
As the infographic shows there have been many changes to UK post services since then – perhaps many ‘political’ and many controversial too. The overall aim in recent years has been to ‘democratise’ the service for suppliers – allowing a greater number of private sector businesses to offer services to business. The effect on direct mail services providers has been to allow them to offer greater value and more flexible services for their clients. While the Royal Mail may still ultimately deliver the Direct Mail item postal carriers can provide services earlier in the delivery chain that will allow businesses to achieve discounts that help maintain the commercial effectiveness of their campaigns.
Changes still to come
Other technological developments took place alongside these developments. Email challenged the supremacy of print whilst increased use of print personalisation and use of data enabled direct mail campaigns to achieve even greater focus and targeting – again helping to drive up return on investment and response rates.
For any questions about our mailing service please don’t hesitate to contact the bakergoodchild mailing agency on 0800 612 1972, we would love to discuss your print, mail (both direct and transactional) and postage requirements with you.