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Edward VIII Post Box on the corner of Breadalbane Street and Albert Street, Tobermory

A Category B Listed Building in Oban South and the Isles, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.6227 / 56°37'21"N

Longitude: -6.0714 / 6°4'17"W

OS Eastings: 150345

OS Northings: 755289

OS Grid: NM503552

Mapcode National: GBR CCD6.MSZ

Mapcode Global: WGZCZ.QS1T

Entry Name: Edward VIII Post Box on the corner of Breadalbane Street and Albert Street, Tobermory

Listing Date: 19 June 2019

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407185

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52509

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Tobermory

County: Argyll and Bute

Town: Tobermory

Electoral Ward: Oban South and the Isles

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

A 1936 pillar box style, cast iron post box, probably made by the Carron Company, Stirlingshire. It is on an extended area of pavement on the corner of Breadalbane Street and Albert Street in the upper part of the town of Tobermory.

The cylindrical cast iron pillar box is painted black at the base and red above. There is a swept frieze under a shallow domed cap which is dentilled at the rim. The full height left hinged door has a cup handle and lock to the right. The lower part of the door bears the cipher 'EVIIIR' in raised gothic lettering, with a crown above and 'Post Office' embossed below. There is a rectangular opening for letters and notice frame above. The words 'Next Collection' are embossed, to the left above the letter opening.

Historical development

This post box was installed in Tobermory in 1936 during the brief reign of Edward VIII. A photograph from the 1980s records it in its current position which is believed to be its original position. The pavement has since been widened around the existing post box.

Statement of Interest

The post box is a rare and intact example of a pillar box style post box made in 1936 during the short reign of Edward VIII. It is believed to be one of only around 30 in continued use in Scotland. The continued social historical interest in the abdication of Edward VIII who famously abdicated the throne for love over duty is also of special interest.

Architectural interest

Design

The post box at Tobermory is a cylindrical pillar box which follows the standard design for this box type. The design was in use from 1879 and there are two sizes, either a 'large pillar' (A Type) or a 'small pillar' (B Type). This post box is a 'B Type'. Although adhering to the standard box type, the Edward VIII cipher on the door panel, as seen here, is only found in a relatively small number of boxes remaining across the United Kingdom due to the short reign of the monarch (see Age and Rarity below).

The post box is made of cast iron and was manufactured by the renowned Scottish iron foundry, Carron Company. The Carron Company was one of the major suppliers of post boxes during the 20th century for the General Post Office. From their foundry in Stirlingshire they cast pillar boxes (from 1922), wall boxes (from 1952) and lamp boxes (from 1969 to 1982) (Letterbox Study Group Website).

The Carron Company was established in 1759 near Falkirk in Stirlingshire, and became one of the most prominent and largest iron works in Europe during the 19th century. They became famous for their decorative ironwork products and for producing munitions in both World Wars. They were one of several foundries in Great Britain that produced pillar boxes for the post office, and one of five foundries that cast Giles Gilbert Scott's iconic design of red telephone boxes. The company became insolvent in 1982.

Most of the design features of the box are typical of a cylindrical post box which is a common building type. The use of the Edward VIII cipher on the door panel is a specific design feature of this type of box and is of interest. The post box, which is still in use remains an intact example of an Edward VIII pillar box.

Setting

The post box is located in the Tobermory Conservation Area on the northeast corner of Breadalbane Street and Albert Street crossroads and is clearly visible from the four side streets. The box is in its original location on a main crossroads junction in the later 19th century grid plan layout of the upper part of the town. Its prominent location on the corner junction groups well with the later 19th century houses around it.

Pillar box post boxes were commonly prominently positioned on residential street corners and the positioning of this box is not unusual.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

The Edward VIII pillar post box in Tobermory is a rare sub-type of an otherwise common and prolific type of street furniture. Edward VIII reigned for less than a year and the number of post boxes created during his reign was therefore correspondingly small when compared to other monarchs. Only a small number of post boxes installed during this period survive largely unaltered.

The introduction of the Penny Post and Postal Act of 1839 resulted in the introduction of post boxes across all of the United Kingdom from 1853 onwards.

The first cylindrical pillar box was cast in 1879. The royal cipher forms part of the branding of the cylindrical post boxes and the current monarch's monogram is normally added to every box erected during their reign.

Edward VIII came to the throne of the United Kingdom on 20th January 1936. He reigned for less than a year before his abdication on 10th December 1936. The majority of the wall post boxes that bore his royal cipher had their doors replaced with ones bearing that of George VI. However the doors on pillar boxes were predominantly left unaltered.

The majority of Edward VIII boxes were freestanding pillar boxes, such as this example in Tobermory. Current information from the Letter Box Study Group (2019) suggests around 271 boxes were made in 1936, 171 of which were pillar boxes. It is thought that 171 Edward VIII boxes survive in Britain, around 30 of which are in Scotland. The post box dates to 1936 and has significant interest because it was cast and installed within the 325 day reign of Edward VIII.

There are around ten listed Edward VIII post boxes in Scotland most of which are the pillar box type. The majority are located in Glasgow where Edward VIII visited during his short reign.

Social historical interest

The continued social interest in commemorating Edward VIII as the king who abdicated the throne for love over duty in 1936 has added to the special interest of this type of post box.

Association with people or events of national importance

The post box has a close historical association with a person of national importance. The post box was installed within the short reign of King Edward VIII and as is a rare example of a post box from the brief period during his reign.

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