In 1840, when Grange was a mere village, the postal service was charmingly organised, as this description from The North Lonsdale Magazine shows:
“The postman was an old man who walked over from Lindale carrying the letters in the crown of his capacious hat. We frequently lay in wait for him but on asking him if there were any letters for us he always replied: Naay, naay, ladies oi can’t tell, yo mun e’en choose for yourselbes”, off came his hat and we searched for our letters in this unique mailbag, much to the relief of the poor postman, whose inability to read or write absolved him, he felt, from any responsibility as to the sorting and delivering of the letters to their proper recipients.”
This morning the postman left me a card at my office saying that he had tried unsuccessfully, at 7.50am, to deliver a letter which needed signing for as it was a “special delivery”. On ringing the number on the card my secretary was told that they were unwilling to deliver the letter with our normal mail (which arrives at about 11am, when the office is manned) and that the only way I could receive it would be by going in person to Lancaster Post Office with my passport, or some other photo ID. And, if I didn’t do so within 7 days the letter would be destroyed. I wonder if the person who took the trouble arrange for this “special” delivery had any idea that they were paying extra so that the Post Office could destroy it? And I wonder why it is that the postal service was so much better 170 years ago when it was handled by an illiterate postman?