POST OFFICE CAERNARFON
Few short anecdotes of my time working in the Post Office in Caernarfon. 1947 to 1957
Delivering the calf to Llanfaglan
Llanaelhearn J4 Van
I started work as a Telegraph Boy on September
7th 1947 which was on a Friday and was paid 11/6d (57 pence) before I started to
To get the job I had to sit an exam, English, Arithmetic, and Geography, and also had to be able to ride a bike. I passed the exam but failed to tell them that I could not ride a bike. I was fourteen and up to then I had never ridden a bike. The original bike they gave me was too big (I was only 4ft 8ins) so a smaller one had to be requisitioned and whilst waiting for it to arrive I delivered the Telegrams by either walking or travelling by bus.
The weather was very bad that year. Record shows it as one of the worst winters we ever had before and since.My hands were so cold after been out delivering a Telegram that I used to have difficulty taking them off the handlebars without crying in pain. All for £1. 4s.6d (122 ½ p) a week rising to 105 shillings when I reached the age of 25. That £5.25p to day.
One of the jobs I had to do when there were no Telegrams to deliver was to work in the Stores and the man in charge was called Bleddyn Parry and he was the one who taught me a lot, on various subjects, that helped me get on in the Post Office.
DELIVERING THE CALF TO
When I was on an afternoon shift as a Postman Driver one of my tasks was to deliver late Telegrams and one came for a farm in Llanfaglan and it read, "Please collect livestock at Caernarfon Station". (Yes we did have a Railway Station in Caernarfon once) I though what the point of going to this farm just with the Telegram when I could easily take the livestock (a small calf) at the same time and, as it was Thursday and I was broke, I might get a tip. One shilling perhaps?. But alas my devious thoughtfulness was in vain.
In those days a shilling [5p] would be enough to pay for me to go into the cinema and also get a packet of Woodbines.
I delivered mail around Bethel and Llanddeiniolen in rota from 1951 until I left Caernarfon in 1957. That the time when they had the dreaded FOOT and MOUTH. Farmers would not let me through the gate of their farm until I dipped my wellies in the old tin bath full of disinfectant. I would also put the mail in the empty milk churns outside their gate until one day when, because the lorry from the dairy was late, I dropped the letters in a full one and the following day the poor farmer had a card from the dairy to say that the milk was not up to standard.
When I got married in 1957 the people of
Bethel presented me and Babs with an 8-day clock which up to this day is still
going strong. That was the best time of my career with the PO. No stress and
meeting people who I enjoyed having a cup of tea with in the morning. I suppose
that like everywhere else the population of Bethel has increased a lot since
I had a few disasters with the van. It was a small Morris 8 with rubber wings. I remember delivering to a farm just above the crossing in Bethel. I stopped to open the gate to go over the small railway line and for some unknown reason the van slipped into a ditch. I called the farmer for assistance and he came along with two stallions. Hitched the chain onto the van. Gave the horses a slap and up went the van and when it came down both the front springs snapped. Another damage was when the plywood floor of the rear of the van rotted away. This happened because, again in Bethel, I would daily load four milk churns and take them from the milking parlour to the main gate and the
milk would spill out and created four white rings and eventually four round holes in the floor. From this farm, and many others, I would also take huge Radios' dry battery to the Exide Depot in Mill Street to be charged and the acid would spill and do some damage behind the seat.
My grandfather lived in Ty Mawr Cottages Llanddeiniolen and my Aunt & Uncle lived further down the road in Ynys Iago. I used to stop at Ynys Iago for my morning cuppa with my Aunt Jennie even though I was not her Delivery Postman. Her mail was delivered from Bangor.
LLANAELHEARN J4 Van
I was on the Mail Dropping run to Llanaelhearn the week when we had the first J4 van in Caernarfon. It had sliding door, adjustable seat, up and forward, and rubber wings. It had no heater so the heat coming from the engine which was inside the driving cab was a bonus. In those days vans did not have heaters. We used to keep warm by wearing long johns and seal the bottom of our trousers with bicycle clips to keep the draught out. In very cold weather I would put my feet on the engine cover, inside this van, to keep warm and would end up with chilblains.
This was my first week on this run and I was not given any tuition only a verbal instructions from one of the boys and a rough map of where to go. I would do a roadside delivery to some farms enroute to Llanaelhearn and on this particular day I had to go and deliver a parcel to one of them. I opened the gate and as I was going through I felt a slight bump. I jumped out to have a look but I could not see any damage. Carried on with my run and arrived at my destination OK
When I returned to Caernarfon there was a small gathering of officials waiting to see the new van. They all had a good look around it but it was only after they had all gone back into the office that one of my workmate pointed out the damage. The gate catch, of the farm that I delivered the parcel to, had caught the side of the van and ripped it open, like a sardine tin, front to back.
I think they were glad when I transferred to Newport.
In 1951 on New Year's Day I collapsed when I got up from my bed to go to work. I was diagnosed with pleurisy and was in bed for 4 months. The day before my illness I was delivering mail around Bontnewydd, on foot, up to my waist in snow. You must forgive me if I get the names of the houses/area wrong because it was such a long time ago. My delivery was all Bontnewydd starting at the terrace on the left as you come to Bont from Caernarfon around Dol Beuno estate, houses by Newborough Inn up to the 'Cartref' and turn left there and all the way to the farms.
Alternative weeks I would deliver around Llanwnda. In those days all deliveries in these small villages were set up in the village Post Office. Each one had their own Postman.
When I returned to work after the illness the Assistant Inspector and myself mapped out the route for Bontnewydd and Llanwnda to be motorised. I suppose these villages have now grown and will have a walking postman as well.