Express Delivery Rates 1891-1980

By special messenger all the way (Service I)

1914 - cover with stamps used for Service I express fees, seldom seen 1d postal stationery lettercard used for urgent message, uprated with 5d adhesive for 1-2 mile double rate, Eastcheap to Chancery Lane

This was the original express service of 1891 and the most fundamental, as the fees for the other services were based on these charges. Packets were delivered by specially despatched messenger and charged by distance from the delivery office (and sometimes also by quantity and weight). Charges were prepaid by stamps on a special form, so letters in this class are generally unstamped. Surviving forms are rare, but the rates are given for reference (and because stamps affixed to the item by the sender could be allowed for, so letters stamped for these rates may occasionally be seen).

There were a wide range of additional services (for example replies, further service by same messenger, delivery from Chief Office), often charged as a new express service, and additional fees to cover such things as multiple packets to the same addressee, the messenger's waiting time at the address, and the use of a special conveyance (rail, bus, tram, cab), either at sender's request or where it was required for reasons of distance or weight (generally the actual fare in that case). The main fees are given below but there were a large number of rather obscure possible combinations and special cases!

In the table below, unless otherwise stated:

  • "Basic" is the basic fee per mile
  • "Weight" is a fee on packets weighing over 1lb in addition to the mileage fee
  • "Mult." is the charge for each additional packet after the first sent by the same messenger, unless all to the same person at the same address
Date Basic Weight Mult. Notes
(25 Mar)
2d first mile

3d each extra mile
Initially available in London and 9 provincial towns, increasing to 40+ towns within a short time. Extended to delivery offices generally from 1st August. Express fee was in addition to full ordinary postage
POST 28/4, POST 30/2719
(1 Jan)
3d 1½d per lb Sunday delivery at all offices where a delivery of ordinary letters was made. Ordinary postage no longer charged
POC 17 Dec 1891
(18 Jul)
3d 1½d per lb 2d No more than 10 packets and weight limit 15lb
POC 18 Jul 1893
(4 Oct)
3d 1d per lb 1d Weight limit 20lb unless a special conveyance was used.
Maximum weight fee 1s
POC 4 Oct 1898
(2 Jul)
3d 1d Weight charge abolished
POC 26 Jun 1900
(1 Oct)
3d 3d 1d Flat-rate weight fee, not charged when a special conveyance was used
POC 25 Sep 1906
(1 Jun)
6d 3d 1d July 1919 Post Office Guide gave a 6d weight fee also, but as this was 3d in later editions and was not mentioned by the Post Office Circular announcing the changes, it is regarded here as a typo
POC 27 May 1919, POG 1 Jul 1919
(1 Jan)
6d 1d Weight charge abolished
POC 14 Dec 1932
(1 Jan)
1s 2½d
POC 26 Oct 1955
(1 Oct)
1s 3d
SG Spec vol 3
(17 May)
3s 4d
SG Spec vol 3
(15 Feb)
20p 3p
(24 Jun)
50p 3p
(13 Jun)
50p 4p
(27 Jul)
Last day of service

Special delivery in advance of the ordinary mail at addressee's request (part of Service II originally, later Service III)

1898 - stamped to order Service III envelope printed for large restaurant at Ludgate Station (for orders?) 1d embossed stamp covered sender's postage

This service was introduced along with the changes above from 18th July 1893. It allowed persons to apply to have packets addressed to them delivered by special messenger in advance of the ordinary mails.

Rates were the same as for standard express delivery (Service I); the charges on at least one packet had to be paid by stamps attached to a special form. (Examples of this are known.)

POC 18 Jul 1893

Express delivery of telephoned messages (originally called Service IV, from 1921 Service V)

1908 - telephone express envelope used in Torquay

This service enabled a telephone subscriber to call the delivery office and dictate a letter, which would be sent out by express messenger in a specially printed envelope.

In addition to the charges for the call and the express delivery (at Service I rates), there was a 'writing down' fee of 3d for up to 30 words and 1d for every additional 10 words. It was introduced in July 1893 and ceased as of 1st January 1956.

SG Spec vol 1-3