In the fascinating history 0f the Thames River Postman we learn a little more about the job and the perhaps surprising fact that the River Postman had to provide his own boat.
The Postman supplied their own boats (skiffs) and their oars (skulls) with the Post Office paying for repairs. In 1825, the Postmaster General approved a payment of £8 for providing a boat for the service.
Here is a picture of a typical Skiff at St. Katherine’s Dock, London
L. Evans had his boat built from a single Oak tree felled at Bromley, Kent. The boat was 21ft 6 ins in length, and 5ft 8 ins beam, it weighed 2 tons, and the skulls were 11ft 10 ins long and it cost £38. The skulls, skiff staff and shoe were made by G. Randall Coe and cost £1. It was sign written by W. J. Watts a Boat and Barge builder since 1828.
Copy of receipt for H.L.Evans’ Skulls
Copy of receipt for H.L.Evans’ Skiff.
H L Evans named his Skiff “Alice Maud”. (pictured below)
In 1916, during World War I. H. L. Evans served in the I. W. T. (Inland Water Transport) Royal Engineers, in France and Belgium. During this time his father G. H. Evans came out of retirement, to take over his duties as River Postman.
H.L.Evans in 1918, in his I.W.T. uniform.
H.L.Evans and the I.W.T. at Zebrugge 1918.
At Christmas he would send home postcards to his family.
In 1919 H.L. Evans returned from WW1, and resumed his duties as River Postman, allowing his father to go back into retirement.
His boat was moored on the Custom House jetty known as the “Harpy”. The River Postman had an official tunic, scarlet red in colour, with black velvet collar and cuffs. The sleeves were braided in black. Down the front of the tunic there were 12 brass buttons with 5 down the cuffs all embossed with the letters G.R.
He also had a Royal Arms badge made of solid silver bearing the “Arms of Hanover”. This was worn in the days of sail to protect them from the press gangs, and also acted as a warrant whilst on duty as a servant of the Crown.
Silver Badge (6in x 4in)
(Both of these items are kept in the Post Office Archives museum London)
When H. L. Evans retired in 1952 aged 60, he was awarded the “Imperial Service Medal” on the 23rd May 1952 for 38 years of service as a River Postman. (pictured below).
H.L.Evans’ Imperial Service Medal letter
When G.H.Evans and H.L.Evans retired they received a letter of thanks from the Postmaster General of that day on behalf of the General Post Office.
G.H.Evans retirement letter 1914
H.L.Evans retirement letter 1952
H.L.Evans was also a Freeman of “ The Company Of Watermen And Lightermen Of The River Thames. (The Certificate is Pictured Below).
Many thanks to Clifford Evans for sharing his family history.