Old and New Edinburgh

Old and New Edinburgh

Volume II

35s OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [North Bridge. amounted to twenty-three persons, including lettercarriers. Ten years afterwards thirty-one were required, and in 1794 the Inland Office, including the letter-carriers' branch, consisted of twenty-one persons. The Edinburgh Post-office, for a long time after its introduction and establishment, was conducted solely with a view to the continuance and security of the correspondence of the people, and thus it frequently had assistance from the Scottish Treasury; and if we except the periods of civil war, when a certain amount of surveillance was exercised by the Government, as a measure of State security, the office seems to have been conducted with integrity and freedom from abuse. In 1796, Thomas Elder of Forneth, at one time Lord Provost, was Deputy Postmaster-General; in 1799 and 1802, William Robertson, and Trotter,of Castlelaw, succeeded to that office respectively. It was held in 1807 by the Hon. Francis Gray, afterwards fifteenth Lord Gray of Kinfauns ; and in 1810 the staff amounted to thirty-five persons, letter-carriers included. In April, 1713, the Post-office was in the first flat of a house opposite the Tolbooth, on the north side of the High Street-Main's shop, as we have stated. At a later period it was in the first floor I ~ t ' a house near the Cross, above an alley, to which it gave the name of the Post-ofice Close. From thence it was removed to the Parliament Close, where its internal fittings were like those of a shop, the letters were dealt across a counter, and the whole out-door business of the city was conducted by one lettercarrier. After being for a time in Lord Covington's house, it was removed to one already mentioned on the west side of the North Bridge, and from thence to a new office (now an hotel) on the Regent Bridge in 1821. For ten years before that period James twelfth Earl of Caithness was Deputy Postmaster- General ; and in the year preceding the removal there, the Edinbzcrgh WeeklyJournaZ says, that by order of the Depute Lyon King of Arms, and the Ushcr of the White Rod, the new coat of the royal arms of Britain, put thereon, was torn down and removed, "as derogatory to the independance of Scotland," Le., wrongly quartered, giving England precedence. Another and correct coat of arms was substituted, and remained there till the present building was erected. In 1823, Sir David Wedderburn, Bart., of Ballendean, was appointed Postmaster-General of Scotland, an office afterwards abolished. In 1856 the establishment on the Regent Bridge consisted of 225 officials, of whom 114 were lettercarriers, porters, and messengers, and the average number of. letters passing through arid delivered in Edinburgh daily was estimated at 75,000. The nuniber of mail-bags received daily was 5x8, and the number despatched 350. The amount of money orders issued and paid showed a sum of A;1,758,079 circulating annually through the department in Scotland. On the 23rd of October, 1861, the foundationstone of the new General Post-office was laid, on the east side of the North Bridge, by the late Prince Consort, amid much state and ceremony, the letter-carriers, all clad for the first time in blue, in lieu of their old scarlet, being drawn up in double rank within the galleries which occupied the site of the old Theatre and which were crowded by a fashionable audience. This was almost the last act of Prince Albert's public life, as he died two months subsequently. At his suggestion the crowning row of vases was added to the fapde. As finished now, it stands behind a pavement of Caithness slabs forty-three feet broad, and is from designs by the late Mr. Robert Matheson, of H.M. Board of Works in Scotland. Built of fine white stone from Binny quarry, in the neighbourhood of the city, its style of architecture is a moderately rich Italian type. It presents an ornamental main front of 140 feet to Princes Street, and another equally ornamental front, or flank, of 180 feet to the North Bridge, with a rearfront, which is also ornate, of ~qo'feet, to the deep valley where once the North Loch lay. The flank to the Waterloo Place Buildings is somewhat plainer than the others, and measures 160 feet. The edifice rises in the central part of each of these three ornamental fronts, to the height of two stately storeys above the street level, and has at the corners wings, or towers, a storey higher, and crowned with rows of massive and beautifully sculptured vases. On the south front it descends to the depth of 125 feet from the summit of these towers, and thus presents a very imposing appearance. This. office, the chief one for all Scotland, cost, including the site, Ar 20,000, and was first opened for business on the 7th of May, 1866. The entire staff, from t4e Surveyor-General downwards, consisted in 1880 of 429 persons; whose salaries, wages, and allowances, amounted to A38,427. Connected, of course, with the head office, there were in Edinburgh, Leith, and the suburbs, in 1880, receiving-offices and pillar-boxes." . . - "By a Government return it appears that in 1880 there pased through the Scottish Post-ofice 101,948,goo letters, 1z,z84,700 post-cards, zn,14o,goo book-parcels, and 14,570,700 newspapers In the same year, the average number of letters delivered to each perran in the population of the three kingdoms was 35 in England, d in Scotland,and 13" Ireland.
Volume 2 Page 358
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Volume 2 Page 359
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