Can you remember a time when you received through the letter box Christmas cards by the dozen?
I know I can and rarely were cards given out by hand like today.
At Christmas 1949 the Portsmouth Christmas mail was the largest on record. There was even a Christmas Day delivery to ensure everyone received their mail.
Up to 10.30am on Christmas Eve 2,100,000 cards posted for delivery in Portsmouth, Gosport and Cosham alone had been cleared. That was not a typing error, yes, two million, one hundred thousand letters.
Three days before Christmas the sorting office dealt with 500,000 letters on that one day alone.
There were so many parcels and packages that St Paul’s Road and Hampshire Terrace drill halls were requisitioned to deal with it all.
A total of 526 extra staff, including postmen and sorters, had been engaged and 176 of them were employed in the sorting office to deal with outgoing Portsmouth residents’ mail alone.
Extra vans had been hired, plus drivers, to deliver parcels and to collect mail bags from boats and trains.
No extra staff were on duty in the telegraphic office, but from December 18 to December 24 a total of 352 greetings telegrams had been received and delivered.
Telegrams from overseas was exceptional and the office was said to have been ’snowed under’.
A postal supervising officer said they had not been worried about football pools traffic as they usually had 50,000 coupons pass through their hands each week.
The supervisor went on to say that very few problems had occurred through badly-packed and wrongly addressed letters and packages.
With the local population having at least doubled since then I wonder how today’s Post Office would cope?