Tuesday, 14 March 2017

From Pillar To Post, And Feeling Blue

Nobody is quite sure about the origin of the phrase "from pillar to post" -there are at least three theories
  1. It was originally 'from post to pillory' - 14th century punishments being the whipping post and then the pillory. But there's no recorded evidence of the phrase that way round
  2. Real [or Royal] tennis involved a court which had posts and pillars.
  3. It is a corruption of the Spanish phrase 'from Herod to Pilate' relating to the trial of Jesus before his crucifixion.
This latest train of thought was sparked by two people discussing post boxes - aka pillarboxes. One was a local guy wondering on Facebook how an estate built in the 1960s had a George V post box [answer - Royal Mail reuses old boxes, so this one was relocated there after the estate was built]
The second pillarbox conversation was with Steph, on the subject of blue pillarboxes
It seems that when Air Mail first became popular, there were actually blue pillarboxes in selected locations throughout the UK so that people could separate surface mail from the flimsy blue missives.
By 1936, there were 139 such boxes in London, and 174 in the provinces. But they only lasted nine years on the streets. Now, I understand, there are only two blue boxes left in mainland Britain*. One is very near Steph's office in Manchester- and bizarrely the second is near her company's other office in Windsor.
The one on the left is outside Manchester's Museum of Industry and Science. It is still in use as a regular box - the right hand one is outside Windsor Castle, but the aperture is blocked and it is just a display piece! The right hand one is the more accurate 1930s colour. [The Manchester one isn't a genuine Air Mail box, just a repainted 1930s red one, sadly!]

When I visit Steph, I hope to get to visit the M of I & S, and learn more about the history of her new city.
Steph is greatly enjoying her job, working in brand and strategy development [more about that another time] 
Did you know that of the world's top 100 brands, 33% have logos which are blue?
I discovered that fact in a tweet from her new company [which has an orange logo]
There are a number of gold pillarboxes now, where towns have celebrated local Olympians. Some of the early boxes were green [*I believe there maybe blue boxes still in use in the Channel Islands and there's one on the Isle of Wight]

Do you have any interesting postboxes/pillarboxes near you?


  1. I love all pillarboxes. I used to work for Royal Mail and they are dear to my heart. I find the red ones very cheering.

  2. So fascinating! I don't have any interesting ones but I liked the Green one I saw in Dublin.x


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!