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 letter card used for urgent message, uprated with 5d
adhesive for 1-2 mile double rate from 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!

Date Basic Fees Special Fees and Notes
(25 Mar)

POST 28/4
POST 30/2719
2d for first mile
3d each extra mile

in addition to full ordinary postage
Initially in London and 9 provincial towns, increasing to 40+ within a short time

Extended to delivery offices generally from 1st August
(1 Jan)

Circular 17 Dec 1891
3d per mile
1d for each 1lb (or part) after first 1lb
Ordinary postage no longer charged. Weight charge for packets over 1lb was in addition to mileage fee

Sunday delivery at all offices where a delivery of ordinary letters was made
(18 Jul)

Circular 18 Jul 1893
Multiple packets by one messenger, not all to same person at same address: 2d per extra packet

No more than 10 packets and weight limit 15lb
(4 Oct)

Circular 4 Oct 1898
3d per mile
1d for each 1lb (or part) after first 1lb, to a maximum of 1s
Multiple packets fee: 1d per extra packet

Weight limit 20lb unless special conveyance used
(2 Jul)

Circular 26 Jun 1900
3d per mile
Weight charge abolished
(1 Oct)

Circular 25 Sep 1906
3d per mile
3d (flat fee) on any packet over 1lb
Weight fee was not charged when a special conveyance was used
(1 Jun)

Circular 27 May 1919
Guide 1 Jul 1919
6d per mile
3d (flat fee) on any packet over 1lb
The July 1919 Post Office Guide gave a weight fee of 6d also, but as this is not mentioned in the Post Office Circular announcing the mileage fee increase, and in later Guide editions the fee is given as 3d, it is regarded here as a typo
(1 Jan)

Circular 14 Dec 1932
6d per mile
Weight charge abolished
(1 Jan)

Circular 26 Oct 1955
1s per mile
Multiple packets fee: 2d per extra packet
(1 Oct)

SG Spec vol 3
Multiple packets fee: 3d per extra packet
(17 May)

SG Spec vol 3
3s per mile
Multiple packets fee: 4d per extra packet
(15 Feb)

20p per mile

Multiple packets fee: 3p per extra packet
(24 Jun)

50p per mile

(13 Jun)

Multiple packets fee: 4p per extra packet
(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.)

Circular 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