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Postal Rate to Kirkwall, Orkney ?
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Author:  leamphil [ Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Postal Rate to Kirkwall, Orkney ?

Would there have been any additional charge to go across to Orkney in 1807 ?

I have a cover from Minehead to Kirkwall in 1807 which has the following postal charge marks:
- "10" crossed out - matches 10d rate (170-230 miles) for the 185 miles to London
- "1/2" crossed out - matches 14d rate (500-600 miles) for the (185+396=581) miles to Edinburgh via London
- "1/7" - which would be the 19d rate for 1000-1100 miles in 1807.

My reckoning is that Minehead to Kirkwall via London is 185+810 miles = 995 miles, based on the mileages in Alan Robertson's GB Postal Rates book. This is less than 1000 miles so would have been 1/6d in 1807.

Based on the above there is a discrepancy of 1d.

Either the total distance was reckoned at over 1000 miles in 1807,
Or there was an additional charge to get to Orkney ?

The entire has transit marks from London and Edinburgh, so I know that it went that route.

Your input grateful received.

Author:  mozzerb [ Sun Feb 21, 2016 4:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Postal Rate to Kirkwall, Orkney ?

In the list of 1830 postage rates in A List of Post-Towns and Principal Places with the Postage of a Single Letter to or from London (see http://www.gbps.org.uk/downloads/postal-directories.php) the rate to Kirkwall is given as 1s 6½d (18½d), which would indeed correspond to 800-900 miles. David Robinson's book doesn't mention any local delivery charge in the Orkneys.

However, the distance you compute is very close to 1000 miles, and if the final charge was put on in Edinburgh they might not have been especially familiar with the precise location of Minehead. So if they looked at the original 10d rate and thought "eh, that's about 200 miles from London then" ... that might explain the charge!

The only other point is that the sea crossing from Wick (45 miles) was counted in the distance as if it were part of the land distance travelled. Does Robertson's 810 miles from London include that? If not, that would take it into the 1000-1100 mileage band.

Author:  leamphil [ Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Postal Rate to Kirkwall, Orkney ?

mozzerb wrote:
However, the distance you compute is very close to 1000 miles, and if the final charge was put on in Edinburgh they might not have been especially familiar with the precise location of Minehead. So if they looked at the original 10d rate and thought "eh, that's about 200 miles from London then" ... that might explain the charge!

I'm certainly open to an error from the post office clerks, but the entire does have a "MINEHEAD / 185" handstamp so the mileage from Minehead to London was there to see.

As you say it it very close to 1000 miles - a slight variation in the postal route and thus the mileage would tip it over ... however I do think that there may be some mileage (!) in a charge for the ferry to Orkney too. I'm sure it's one of these - clerk error, change in mileage, ferry charge but which one I don't know.

Image

Author:  mozzerb [ Sun Feb 21, 2016 8:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Postal Rate to Kirkwall, Orkney ?

Cary 1802 turns out to be on the web on Google Books (I'll put a copy on the GBPS site as well at some point, it would be useful), and looking at that, I'm not sure how Robertson came to his figure of 810 miles if that's what he was basing it on! The figures quoted there are:

London to Edinburgh (miles/furlongs by various routes)
- by Berwick 398/4
- by do 397/0
- by Coldstream 386/4
- by Jedburgh 370/1
- by Kelso 386/1
- by Selkirk 393/1

Edinburgh to Kirkwall 325 miles
Edinburgh to Wick 270 miles (which would be 55 miles to Kirkwall not the 45 stated by Robinson)

However you add those up, you don't get more than about 723 miles. Google Maps gives 256 miles for Edinburgh to Wick nowadays, which looks like a pretty direct route and probably isn't way different from the 1802 route.

Just to confuse things, in an Edinburgh almanack of 1833 (also Google Books) the postage from Edinburgh to Kirkwall seems to be given as 14d, which would be 400-500 miles. There was no Kirkwall Penny Post according to that book.

One for the Scottish P/H collectors, I think!

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