Like Santa Claus, London’s famous red mailboxes were once green. There are various theories to explain this change, and choosing one is yours As you wish.
Red letter boxes are as iconic as red phone boxes in the UK. During the Victorian period, architect John Benfold created the “pillar” letterbox, in a hexagonal pattern and in green. Since 1866, this street furniture has been established throughout the country but also in the Commonwealth states, i.e. the former colonies of the United Kingdom: Ireland, India, Cyprus, Malta, Hong Kong, New Zealand or Gibraltar and Sri Lanka.
But since 1874, Benfold Letterbox Begins to see red. The letterboxes are gradually repainted in the same color Double Talkers Londoners, with only one hundred and fifty of these green pillars remaining today, are scattered around the world.
According to some, the boxes were repainted in red to make them more visible and encourage their use. For others, this color will allow city dwellers to stop attacking them as they walk. In the 1930s, some aircraft mailboxes were painted blue, but red (again) seemed to win the battle with flying colors.
Real copies almost like life
On one of the main streets of the City of London, since 2016, there is a replica of this old green letterbox. Published in St Martin Le Grand, it gives an idea of what the original Benfold looked like. It is also used and functions as a regular mailbox.
Opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, this pillar box marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Post Office, when King Henry VIII installed a “Postmaster” to his Royal Mail. The chosen location is marked by its proximity to the first public post office or GPO located in St. Paul between 1894 and 1984. Did you know that the ‘St. Paul’ metro station is also known as the ‘Bureau de Post’? 1937?
In Ireland, red boxes are repainted in green with hand-made mechanisms
During the Irish Declaration of Independence in 1921, when the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, the Republic received hundreds of identical mailboxes. Only one problem arises: these “pillar-boxes” arise in their most beautiful red costumes on the streets. Proud and honest, they are considered by many to be the symbol of the British Empire that the Republicans wanted to secede from.
Faced with this challenge, Arthur Griffith – Tail Irene’s new government’s first reaction was not to appoint a team of designers to replace this letterbox, which is now a task on the ground. The proposed solution is simple: repaint these pillars green again. “An Irish solution to the Irish problem!” The editorial staff of the Irish Times laughs.
Finally, the exact color is not specified, and depending on the paint stocks available in different municipalities, the mailboxes will be covered with different shades of green. For a long time, crowns and other royal initials were visible in relief under the green paint, until the boxes were gradually replaced.