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Post Office (Telecommunications) Registered Files: Minuted Papers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1814 POST Registered Files
Held at: BT Archives
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Full title: Post Office (Telecommunications) Registered Files: Minuted Papers
Date(s): 1792-1983
Level of description: Fonds
Extent: c6000 folders (BT)
Name of creator(s): Post Office Registry
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The system of "minuting" papers submitted to the Postmaster General by the Secretary to the Post Office for a decision (ie numbering the papers, and separately copying a note of the paper as a "minute" into volumes indexed by subject) was introduced in 1793. It remained in use by the Post Office Headquarters registry until 1973.

Until 1921, several different major minute series were in use with telecommunications and postal issues within the same filing system for England and Wales (POST 30), Ireland (POST 31) and Scotland (POST 32).

In 1921, the several different minute series were replaced by a single all-embracing series (POST 33). This was suspended in 1941 as a wartime measure when a Decimal Filing system came into use (POST 102), but was resurrected in 1949. In 1955 the registration of Headquarters files began to be decentralised under several local registries serving particular departments, although the "minuting" of cases considered worthy of preservation, and the assimilation of later cases with earlier existing minuted bundles, continued until 1973.

Following the decentralisation of the registry in 1955, the previous minuted papers sequence was closed and a new sequence set up for the listing of both the central registry's files and the decentralised registries' files from 1955 (POST 122). In addition, there are two classes which reflect later creations of classes to accomodate papers which had, for various reasons, not been assimilated into the main classes (TCB 2 and POST 121).


Scope and content/abstract:

Telecommunications minuted papers relating to Post Office telegraph and telephone services. Minuted papers were those papers which had been submitted to the Postmaster General for a decision, and then been retained in the Post Office registry.

At first, the papers minuted tended only to be the particular case submitted to the Postmaster General but, as time went on, registry staff followed a practice of continuing to add physically to an existing minuted case all other cases on that subject which came to hand. As a result, the minuted papers frequently consist of quite large bundles of files on a common subject spanning many years. The date range of the files is consequently often much earlier or much later than the date suggested by the Former Reference used by the registry staff.

POST 30 records concern telecommunications issues in England and Wales, 1792-1952; POST 31 concern Ireland, 1841-1960; and POST 32 concern Scotland, 1864-1966. On its introduction in 1921, POST 33 superseded these sequences and is concerned with telecommunications issues across all these geographies 1921-51, as does its successor in 1949, with POST 102 covering years 1936-76.

The subject of individual files among the minuted papers can be wide-ranging, from the mundane administrative minutiae to policy decisions on developments of critical importance. The diversity and depth of these files can be seen by such examples as the introduction of Bell's telephones to the Post Office (POST 30/330), signalling systems for Belfast and County Down Railway Company (POST 31/74) , arrangements for female telephonists working late duties (POST 32/254D), development of Rugby Radio station (POST 33/1079B), design of telephone kiosks by Giles Gilbert Scott (POST 33/1448), voice recording service for British and Allied armed forces (POST 102/6), telecommunication scheme plans in case of wartime invasion (POST 121/360), and the London to Birmingham television cable linke (POST 122/471).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English (predominately); also Arabic and French.

System of arrangement:

POST registry records deposited at BT Archives are retained as Public Record sequences POST 30, 31, 32, 33, 102, 121 and 122. Within each of this sequences the records have been arranged in accordance with BT Archives' function framework (designed in 2007), whilst retaining the original finding numbers.

Conditions governing access:

Available for research at BT Archives, see

Conditions governing reproduction:

Researchers may reproduce copies of material held by BT Heritage or take photographs/film of them themselves, subject to approval by the archivist and the conditions laid out in BT Archives Copying, Photography and Reproduction Information available on request and in BT Archives searchroom.

Finding aids:

Full catalogues for BT Archives can be searched at

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

These records were divided between the Royal Mail Archive and BT Archives in 1991, when the telecommunications records were transferred to BT Archives' custody.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Telecommunications minuted papers, 1889-1977, that were excluded from the POST cataloguing for various reasons are catalogued as TCB 2.

The British Postal Museum and Archive retains the minuted POST papers concerning postal issues. They also hold a parallel "Report" volumes that were in use by the Secretary, 1790-1841 (POST 39 and 40).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:

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