The History of the South East District Office

and its Sub Offices.



J. W. A. Lowder


Section 7 Exhibitions


            The first postmarks in connection with a notable event were put on letters posted at the Festival of Empire Imperial Exhibition at the Crystal Palace 12th May to 28th October 1911. There were six machine dies illustrated as E.1 with the die number in the lower part of the date circle, and two hand stamps E.2 numbered 7 and 8. Correspondence was handled by the Norwood office.


                                    E.1                                                                   E.2


            The Festival of Britain held on the South Bank site opened on the 4th May 1951 a Friday. The first collection was made at 2.30 from the eight boxes situated in the area, and continued at regular intervals daily until the exhibition closed on Sunday 30th September 1951.


            The total postings were 3,459,866 letters and 10,307 registered letters. A more detailed history of the exhibition I have written in P. H. S. Bulletin 99.


            I have illustrated the cancellations applied to correspondence as E.3, E.4 and E.7. Two machines were in use obliterating as E.3 and the 24 handstamps as E.4. E.5 illustrates the registration serial label S.E.97 used at the exhibition post office. E.6 was the office internal hand stamp but I have seen it on the reverse of letters which had been postmarked by machine and hand.


                        E.3                                                                               E.4


On the 12th June 1951 the E.3 date die was assembled with the year 1952 in error and the obliterator proof book was initialed by supervising officers unnoticed*.The whole days collection was thus dated 1952! The error was discovered after the noon collection the following day the 13th. A total of

16,739 items were stamped by the machine during this period. (12890-12th. 3849-13th).

* The Proof Book was found by myself and handed to the G.P.O. Record Room.


                                    E.5                                                                   E.6





            On Wednesday 6th April 1960 the Seabourne Mail Exhibition was opened in the Greenwich Maritime Museum. Mr Alan Robertson author of "The Maritime (Postal ?) History of the British Isles" had organised special posting facilities from the Greenwich sorting ofice and for a special handstamp as E.8. Although the exhibition was open until December 1960 only letters posted from the 6th April to the 13th April were specially postmarked. The daily postings were,


                                                                        Ordinary                       Registered

                        Wednesday       6 April              17,297                           308

                                                7                           153                          198

                                                8                           445                          200

                                                9                           201                          200

                                                10                          369                          200

                                                11                          599                          200

                                                12                          910                          200

                                                13                          278                          305

                                                                        20252                           1811



            The London International Stamp Exhibition 1960 was held at the Royal Festival Hall 9th July to 16th July. Correspondence received the cancellation as E.9 for registered and express letters handed to the exhibition post office. Ordinary letters were collected to the S.E.D.O. for machine stamping as E.10. One machine was found sufficient to cope with the work although two slogan dies were available. The date die was F. There were five special handstamps as E.9, two were in use at the S.E.D.O. for packets and orkwardly placed stamps, and some registered correspondence. The remaining three were in use at the exhibition post office.



                        E.9                                                                               E.10


            On the 13th July one of the clerks found his obliterator flooded with ink which resulted in bad impressions. He stripped the dies and after cleaning replaced the date die reversed. some 25 registered and 13 express letters were forwarded before the error was brought to notice.




            During the week the 42nd Philatelic Congress of Great Britain was held on the 14th July. The slogan die as E.11 was in use on all ordinary correspondence posted at the exhibition but the E.9 hand stamp continued in use for registered and express items. The total postings were,


                                                 Ordinary                     Express                       Registered

            Saturday                       21,371                           257                               2205

                                                  4,153                          272                                 199

                                                10,191                           241                                 232

                                                  8,303                          241                                 363

                                                  7,702                          387                                 400

                                                21,737                           617                                 442

                                                  7,511                          339                                 232

                                                10,850                           563                                 317

                                                91,818                          2,944                             4822



            The Exhibition Study Group wishes to thank Mr J. W. A. Lowder for kindly giving permission to reproduce part 7 of his work "The History of the South East District Office and its Sub Offices". Mr Leonard Johnson who made this section available to me, and also obtained permission to use it, tells me that this work has never been published. A single copy was however bound and presented to the Post Office Archives. Mr Lowder mentions he wrote a more detailed history of the Festival of Britain in the P.H.S Bulletin 99. I shall endeavour to obtain a copy of this.


   © Exhibition Study Group 1996