28th March 1794

Guernsey Post Office is established

Guernsey Post Office is older than you think. It was established at the end of March 1794.

The French Revolution was ongoing, it was the year Nelson lost his sight in his right eye and George Washington was still president of the United States.

Yet, to claim that Guernsey had no postal service before this date would be wrong. It’s just that what it did have rather ad-hoc and by no means guaranteed. Without any official arrangement for transporting mail between the mainland and Channel Islands, enterprising individuals set up their own collection points. They handed outgoing mail to the captains of vessels heading to the mainland, and took back any letters arriving on the islands for local distribution.

Guernsey Post Office

Pay, pay and pay again

Anyone sending a letter was charged twice. They paid once for the services of the local who liaised with the captain, and again for the captain. There was no fee to be paid to the British postal system, as recipients, rather than senders, bore the cost of mainland mail delivery in the 18th century. In the end, then, sending a letter involved two separate people paying three different parties.

The postal system was formalised on 28 March 1794 through a British Act of Parliament. This established the Guernsey Post Office, with Ann Watson appointed its first postmistress. She operated from her home in St Peter Port High Street.

The existence of an official Post Office gave islanders and mainlanders a degree of confidence that anything they sent would arrive in a timely manner, at a set price. Mail would be conveyed to and from the mainland once a week.

It was almost another sixty years before Guernsey got its first postbox, though, in 1853.

Change, change and change again

Guernsey Post Office became Guernsey Post in 1969 as part of a wide-ranging overhaul of the British postal system. Guernsey Post Ltd was subsequently created in 2001 and awarded a licence to operate in the Bailiwick.

Guernsey Post Office image by Manxruler, released under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license

 

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Other events that occured in March

Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy 1st
Channel 4 broadcasts Sark-based Mr Pye 2nd
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce 3rd
Dead man appointed to run Guernsey Airport 4th
Guernsey’s entire police force is arrested 5th
Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners 6th
Guernsey players set darts record
Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus 7th
Guernsey’s first governor, Edmund Weston, is appointed 8th
Occupying forces mount a desperate raid on Granville 9th
Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster 10th
Birth of Baron James de Saumarez 11th
First publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea 12th
Building work starts on Guernsey Airport 13th
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established 14th
Guernsey exchange student goes missing in Virginia 15th
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is published 16th
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey clears up after heaviest snow in years 17th
Torrey Canyon spills oil on Guernsey’s beaches 18th
Guernsey issues banknotes featuring famous locals 19th
Guernsey guidebook pioneer Henry Inglis dies 20th
Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George 21st
Alderney arrest sparks a “riot” 22nd
Guernsey nurse Elizabeth Lincoln elected to the States 23rd
Famed printer Thomas de la Rue born 24th
Guernsey votes for equal age of consent 25th
Guernsey to UK telephone connection inaugurated 26th
Condor Liberation enters service 27th
Guernsey Post Office is established 28th
Enemy at the Door comes to the end of its run 29th
Guernsey adopts Sterling currency 30th
Guernsey and France tackle the Amoco Cadiz oil spill 31st