Getting posted to the post office

Ancestry has just released the ‘British Postal Service Appointment Books’ data set which was transcribed by volunteers under its World Archives Project {1}, basically covering the period 1831 to 1969. I made a small contribution here, partly spurred by the knowledge that great uncle Arthur would appear somewhere in these records.

Sure enough, I can easily find four entries for Arthur W Howes (born 1885 Norwich), although one of these is a repeat (in the original records, not a  duplicate transcription). Here are the entries:

  • May 1901: appointment number 202009, to position of ‘Learner’, Norwich.
  • 1902, about March: appointment 129632, minute 8303, confirmation minute 4760/03, to SC & T, Norwich.
  • July 1913 (entered twice): appointment 137992, minute E22368, to SC & T (P), Ipswich.

That gives a clear date for when he moved to Ipswich. I had guessed that SC&T is something like “Service Counters and Telegrams” which ties in with family knowledge that he was something on the lines of a counters supervisor later on. UPDATE: I have found a record (in 1883) where ST&C is written as “Sortg Clk & Telst” – Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist.

See Note 3 below for more occupational code cracking.

At the 1911 census uncle Arthur gives his occupation as “letter sorter and telegraphist”, and he is also known to have worked on the Norwich to London night train, sorting mail on the way, early in his Post Office career.

There must be some more appointment entries relating to “uncle Arthur” somewhere though, moving to a job on Ipswich central post office counters and then, presumably, taking on a  supervisory role should be recorded. And I have been unable to locate any record for his wife-to-be Hilda Brock, who is believed to have been on the Ipswich post office counters, or her sister Dorothy. Perhaps junior counter staff aren’t in these appointment books?

Note 1 See The questionable pleasures of data entry for more on WAP. To see the transcribed records, you’ll need an Ancestry Premium sub, unless you took part in the transcribing.

Note 2 I expect Arthur William Howes retired at age 60, in 1945. A previous search for the record of this (in pensions archives held by British Postal Museum and Archive) drew a blank, but it is known that records from around the end of the war might have been poorly made. That’s from memory, as I don’t seem to have made a note. He died 1968, Hilda in 1976.

Note 3 ABBREVIATIONS in British Postal Appointments Books. I thought it might be useful to list what I know on abbreviations for these records. Also see the Glossary right at the end of the Family History Research Guide (pdf) available on the British Postal Museum and Archive website.


  • CTO – Central Telegraph Office
  • LPR – London Postal Region
  • LTR/LTS – London Telephone Region/Service
  • MOO/MOD – Money Order Office/Department
  • SB/SBD – Savings Bank Department
  • SO – Sub-Post Office
  • TA – Telephone Area
  • TMO – Telephone Manager’s Office
  • TS – Telegraph Section
  • TSO – Town Sub Office
  • SWDO, NEDO, etc – South West District Office etc, London.

Situation or post (alternative description with a /)

  • CC&T – Counter Clerk and Telegraphist
  • Clk – Clerk
  • COA – Call Office Attendant
  • CWO/CWW – Certificated Wireless Operator/Watcher
  • Engr Ldn/Prov – Engineering Department London/Provinces
  • EO – Executive Officer
  • Lr Cr – Letter Carrier ??
  • Mach Opr – Machine Operator
  • Pman – Postman
  • Rur Postn – Rural Postman
  • SA – Sorting Assistant
  • SC & T – Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist
  • Shtd Typist – Shorthand Typist
  • Skd Worker – Skilled Worker
  • Sub Pmss – Sub Postmistress (at Sub-Post Office)
  • TA – Traffic Assistant
  • Tel messr – Telegram messenger
  • Tlgst – Telegraphist
  • Tpnst – Telephonist
  • U/Unest – Unestablished (service ineligible for a pension)

I still need to crack the following code for an 1883 appointment – for someone who gave his occupation as “assistant in Gen Post Office” at 1881, and was appointed as Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist in 1890:

4 thoughts on “Getting posted to the post office

  1. I believe I’m interested in cracking the same code as yourself. For ‘W. Ashbee’, in 1863, I see something like “Lv Cv London”. The same code appears on a neighbouring entry in the book too but I cannot work it out.

  2. Hi Tony, thanks for the ‘post’. You also need to find a handwriting guide to help (I’ve been doing some entry/review with Ancestry’s World Archive Project, which helps). The entry here is almost certainly Sr Cr, for W Ashbee it looks more like Lr Cr. The most tempting interpretation is Sorting Clerk, or Letter Clerk.

  3. The image I was viewing looks more like Lv Cv whereas yours looks like Lr Cr. I believe they’re the same abbrevation though. A kind person on soc.genealogy.britain suggested to me that this must be short for’Letter Carrier’.

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