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The people's design


This is a re-post.

Sometimes the people working for government are brilliant. This was certainly the case with Sir Rowland Hill, Secretary of the Post Office, and his Surveyor for the Western District, novelist Anthony Trollope. Even so, the public improved on their excellent plans.

Sent by Hill to sort out mail collection in the Channel Islands, Trollope introduced pillar boxes sometime around this date in 1852. They appeared in the rest of Britain in 1853. First painted green - an awkward colour as people bumped into them - they were redesigned by the House of Lords, and by local towns and foundries.

Beginning in 1874 they were all repainted red. That this took ten years is a testimony to the glacial pace of government when it is getting something right. Hexagonal and rectangular shapes also had their time in the rain, but in the end the public demanded and received the classic cylinder, giving new meaning to the ancient phrase, "from pillar to post".

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