London General Post Office

General Post Office, &c.  (Tower, Monument, and London
Bridge in the distance.)

General Post Office .—This large building, at the corner of Cheapside and St. Martin's-le-Grand, was finished in 1829, from the designs of Sir Robert Smirke.  It is in the Ionic style, with a lofty central portico; beneath which is the entrance to the spacious hall (80 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 53 feet high), having also an entrance at the opposite extremity; but the central Hall is now entirely enclosed, owing to the recent great extension of the Postal business.  A Money-order Office has been built on the opposite side of the street; and the Post Office has been added to in various ways, to make room for increased business.  The main building, which contains a vast number of rooms, is enclosed by a railing; and at the north end is a courtyard, in which mail-vans range up and depart with their load of bags, at certain hours in the morning and evening, for the several railway termini.  At other portions of the building the foreign, colonial, and India mails are despatched.  From six to seven o'clock in the evening a prodigious bustle prevails in putting letters into the Post Office; and on Saturday evening, when the Sunday newspapers are posted, the excitement is still further increased—especially just before six, by which hour the newspapers must be posted.  The establishment, some four years ago, employed 20,000 clerks, sorters, and letter-carriers in the various parts of the United Kingdom; and since the Post Office took over the business of the Telegraph Companies, the number of its employés is greatly increased.  The postage charged on foreign and colonial letters is too small to pay for the mail-packets and other expenses; profit is derived only from the inland letters.  There are now in London and the suburbs about 730 pillar-boxes and wall-boxes; without counting receiving houses.  Newspapers and book packets must not be put in town pillar-boxes.  A very useful novelty, Post Office Savings' Banks, was introduced in 1861.  In the year 1840, in which the uniform rate of one penny per letter of half an ounce weight, &c., commenced, the revenue of the Post Office was only £471,000.  Its revenue received during the year 1871–72 was no less than £6,102,900, and every year the receipts are increasing.  New postal buildings of great extent have been erected on the opposite side of the street.