Hornsey Station, Tottenham Lane, London, N8. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
Saunterings In And About London – Max Schlesinger, 1853:
The existing arrangements of the English post-office, and the penny-postage, which, in 1840, was introduced by Rowland Hill, have proved so excellent in their results, that the majority of continental states have been induced to approximate their institutions to Mr. Hill’s principle. Men of business and post-office clerks are not yet satisfied; they desire a system of cheap international postage, and it is devoutly to be hoped that those pious wishes will, in the end, be gratified. But the majority of the continental governments hesitate before they commit themselves to an experiment, which, in the most favourable case, only promises a future increase of revenue, while in every case if is certain to entail losses on the present. In England, however, the experiment has been made, and the system works well and pays. And the arrangements of the post-office have been brought to a degree of perfection unknown even to the wildest dreams of the boldest political economist of the last century.
With the general penny postage for England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Channel Islands—with a regular, rapid, and frequent transmission of the mails from and to the provinces, there is, moreover, an admirable system adopted for the distribution of letters throughout the metropolis. London is divided into two postal districts: one of them embraces the area within three miles from the Chief Office at St. Martin’s-le-Grand; the second district includes those parts of the town which lie beyond the three miles’ circle.
The postage, of course, is the same for either district; but the difference lies in the number of deliveries. In the inner circle there are not less than ten deliveries a day.
The construction of the houses contributes much to the efficiency of the system. The postman’s functions are here much easier than those of his continental colleagues. He is not required to go up and down stairs, he gives his double knock; and as the majority of letters are inland letters, and as such prepaid, no time is lost with paying and giving change. The frequency of letter-boxes at the house doors tends still more to simplify the proceeding.