Four boys pose beside the church lych gate, and a young woman stands near the railings on the other side of the archway. The boy second from the right is a Post Office telegram boy.
Wearing the uniform of the King, telegram boys were under obligation to conduct themselves in a manner which should never bring that uniform into disrepute. By 1895 there were 67 regular cycle posts set up throughout the country. In 1897, the radius for free delivery of telegrams was increased from one to three miles, and the Post Office Engineer-in-Chief’s Office purchased 100 pedal bicycles for telegram messengers and postmen. By 1909 there were 5000 postmen on bicycles, carrier tricycles and bicycles with trailing carts. Note the cycle clips worn by this telegram boy.
Once a telegram was ready to be sent, it was put in an envelope and addressed, and given to a telegram messenger, who always wore a Post Office uniform. A belt with a leather pouch holding the telegrams was worn over the uniform. The uniform jacket was adorned with a metal badge and number. When the telegram delivery messenger arrived at the address written on the envelope they waited for the recipient to read their telegram to find out if they wanted to send a reply. Their routine was to knock on the front door of the dwelling and announce, “Telegram for Mr. or Mrs. (Surname).” They would hand the message over and wait until it was read, then asking, “Will you be replying?” If they answered, “Yes”, they would accept payment along with the reply message.