Letter to the Editor – The Postal Service

Telegraph Monday 10 August 1885

To the Editor – Sir,

…It is asserted that South Brisbane has two postal deliveries a day. True; but Stanley street and the flat adjoining is not the South Brisbane electorate. If there is such an office as postal inspector, he certainly ought to be escorted to Brighton Road or Highgate Hill, from which he could obtain  a view of one of the South Brisbane letter carrier’s districts.; and if I mistake not, he would see at a glance that a population equal to that of Toowoomba, and only a mile from the G.P.O. , were not only cut off from the advantages of a second delivery but even that of an early single delivery. To make this plain, allow me to say that there is only one letter carrier allotted to Hill End, West End and Highgate Hill. […]

Gentlemen at Brighton Road and Highgate Hill are favoured with a delivery of yesterday’s letters at lunch time. From the above I think it will appear evident that the inhabitants of West End and Highgate Hill are entitled to another letter carrier; and  then a second delivery would place them on an equality with the ratepayers of the South Ward. […]

As an instance, I wish this letter to reach you by first delivery tomorrow; it is now 5pm. I must spend sixpence for omnibus fares as the postal arrangements from and to West End are so unique, that it takes nearly 24 hours for a letter addressed to Queen street from West End, to reach its destination. Are there any pillar boxes left in the colony? If so, a few in West End would remove another grievance. – Yours. &c., 


West End , August 7.


View of South Brisbane from Highgate Hill 1893 ( State Library of Queensland)

In these days of email and the telephone, it’s difficult for us to imagine life in the 19th century when the postal service was of such importance. The telephone was in its infancy, expensive, and restricted mainly to commercial users. The telegram was an alternate method of communication but very expensive. Newspapers carried out the role of social media, as illustrated in a previous post, Glenview – A Highgate Hill House circa 1883.

Brisbane General Post POffice 1870s

Brisbane GPO in the 1870s. The second wing missing in this image was added in 1879. State Library of Queensland.

The clear expectation of the author of this letter to the editor was that a letter posted in the late afternoon should be delivered within the city the next morning or at the very least by the time of a second afternoon delivery. Australia Post today quotes delivery times of a standard  letter as 2-6 days, vastly different to the expectations in 1885. As an experiment, I posted a letter from the city to our address at Highgate Hill. No expense is spared in the preparation of posts for this blog! It was posted on a Monday at midday and was delivered on Wednesday.

A standard letter within the city required a one penny stamp, whilst letters to country locations cost tuppence. The value of one penny in 1871 converts roughly in buying power to around 60 cents today, compared to the 2017 cost of a standard letter of $1.00.

The Queensland postal service commenced soon after separation. These stamps issued in 1860, the year after separation,  featured the 1838 painting of Queen Victoria by A. C. Chalon. After Federation, the Queensland Post Office was incorporated into the Commonwealth Post Master General’s Department.


Queensland_1900_2d stamp.jpg

A later Queensland Postage Stamp at the time of the Boer War


2 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor – The Postal Service

  1. Pingback: The Telephone Becomes Automatic | Highgate Hill and Its History

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