AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

Post Office: Newspaper Post

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0813 POST 24 Series
Held at: British Postal Museum and Archive: The Royal Mail Archive
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Post Office: Newspaper Post
Date(s): 1791-1966
Level of description: Series
Extent: 58 volumes 22 files
Name of creator(s):

No further information available


Administrative/Biographical history:

Officials of The Post Office acted as the first newsagents in this country after the establishment of the public postal service. Six postal officials entitled 'Clerks of the Road' were privileged to frank gazettes at 2d, a reduced charge from letter post. Under the terms of the Franking Act 1764, newspapers bearing the signature of a Member of Parliament or sent to a member at any place which he advised were to go free. The Newspaper Office was established at the General Post Office in 1782 by John Palmer, following criticisms relating to the treatment of newspapers. With the coming of the French Revolution, the Clerks in the Foreign Office established a large foreign news agency. The Ship Letter Act of 1815 contained an important provision in favour of newspapers, providing the first enactment that allowed newspapers to go out of the United Kingdom at a cheaper rate than letters.

The act of 1764 also authorised Members of Parliament to frank newspapers. Many extended the provisions of the act by allowing free postage to booksellers and newsagents who rapidly took over a considerable part of the distribution of newspapers from the Clerks of the Road. An Act of 1825 legalised the free transmission of newspapers by post. In 1830 news vendors presented a petition to Parliament protesting against Post Office servants being allowed to compete with private dealers, and on 5 April 1834, The Post Office ceased to have a privileged interest in the franking of newspapers.

An act of 1855 abolished the compulsory payment of stamp duty on newspapers. Newspaper proprietors were allowed the option of printing on paper stamped to denote payment of stamp duty and thereby qualifying for free transmission by post or using unstamped paper and paying normal rates of postage, until 1870.

The Post Office Act of 1870 provided that newspapers fulfilling the conditions specified in the act were, after registration by The Post Office, entitled to transmission within the United Kingdom at a rate of d irrespective of weight. In 1897 weight restrictions were introduced. A grant of preferential tariff to the press was declared by a Treasury Committee in 1875, enabling The Post Office to transmit press releases and news messages to newspapers and other news institutions at the press tariff rate. By The Post Office (Newspapers Published in British Possessions) Act of 1913, copies of newspapers printed and published in any British possession or protectorate were admitted to the benefit of the inland newspaper rate. The Canadian Magazine Post introduced in 1907

allowed for the transmission of all newspapers registered at the Inland Newspaper rate and in addition publications issued at intervals of not more than 31 days, subject to certain conditions.


Scope and content/abstract:

This series relates to the transmission of newspapers by post and comprises records relating to the franking privilege of the Clerks of the Road, the transmission of newspapers overseas, and the postage rates of Newspaper Post. The majority of the class consists of published lists of newspapers registered at the Post Office for transmission under the Newspaper Post, (POST 24/21 - 24/72). Also included are items relating to the introduction of a rural newspaper delivery service in the 1970s.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The material is arranged in chronological order within series. All pieces consist of one volume unless otherwise stated.

Conditions governing access:

Public Record

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Entry checked by Barbara Ball

Rules or conventions:

Compiled in compliance with General Internation Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G) second edition 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997

Date(s) of descriptions:
Entry checked June 2011

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"