Wednesday 30 September 2020

Royal Mail Paints Special Postboxes for Black History Month

Royal Mail Press Release 30 September 2020

As Black History Month begins, Royal Mail unveils four special edition postboxes in each UK nation. The beautifully decorated postboxes honour black Britons both past and present to mark this special month.

The postboxes are located in special sites in London (close to the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton), Glasgow (close to Glasgow University), Cardiff (close to Cardiff City Hall) and Belfast (close to Belfast City Hall). The Belfast box is a parcel postbox.

The social media-activated postboxes are painted black with a striking gold trim, and each feature a figure of significance to the British black community, who has also appeared on a special stamp. The postboxes highlight the prominence and nationwide success of all the Black Britons featured. 

A full list* of black Britons who have appeared on Special Stamps over the years can be found by scanning a QR code on the boxes, which link through to a dedicated online gallery on the Royal Mail website.

* On the webpage, the heading reads: "This gallery charts some of the black Britons who have featured on our Special Stamp over the years."  

I haven't studied the catalogue in detail to see who might have been omitted.  However, I can think of at least one stamp missing if Black History Month embraces people of Asian as well as African and American ethnicity, buut this is the subject of some debate. 

Peter De Norville, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Royal Mail said: “Black History Month is a great opportunity to celebrate the contributions that black people have made to this country over many generations. We are also using it as an opportunity to celebrate the vital work that our black employees do throughout the nation, from the mail bag to the meeting room.”  

Artist Yinka Shonibare, CBE, who created the painting that features on the London box, said: “It was a pleasure to work with Royal Mail on a national postage stamp in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy. As a citizen of the commonwealth, it was particularly important to me to be making a visible contribution in a historic public space.”

The location and design of the postboxes is as follows:

  • London: Acre Lane, Brixton
    • The postbox was chosen for its proximity to the Black Cultural Archives, as a leading museum for the British black community.
    • The box features the image Queuing at the RA by Yinka Shonibare (CBE). Shonibare was one of six artists commissioned by Royal Mail to produce original artworks for a set of Special Stamps issued to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy.


    £1.55 stamp marking the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts showing 'Queuing at the RA' by Yinka Shonibare

  • Glasgow: Byres Road, Glasgow
    • This postbox was chosen for its central location within the city.
    • The box features an image of Walter Tull, who had signed on to become the first black player for Rangers, before being tragically killed in action in his post within the British Army (where he was the first black officer to command troops in a regular unit). He featured in a set of stamps released in 2018, to mark the end of the First World War.


    2nd Lieut Walter Tull featured on a 1st class stamp in 2018 marking the end of World War I

  • Cardiff: King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff
    • This postbox was chosen for its proximity to Cardiff City Hall, and central location within the city.
    • The box features nurse and businesswoman Mary Seacole. She featured on a set of stamps released in 2006 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the National Portrait Gallery. Seacole nursed wounded British soldiers back to health during the Crimean War (1853-1856) and built a dedicated place for them to recuperate known as the British Hotel.


    2006 1st class stamp featuring a painting of Mary Seacole in the National Portrait Gallery  


  • Belfast: Bedford Street, Belfast
    • This parcel postbox was chosen for its proximity to Belfast City Hall, and central location within the city.
    • The box features an image of Sir Lenny Henry CBE. Stand-up comedian, actor, singer, writer and television presenter, known for co-founding the charity Comic Relief, Henry appeared in the Comedy Greats Special Stamps, released in 2015.


2015 Comedy Greats 1st class stamp featuring Sir Lenny Henry

Royal Mail postbox in Acre Lane, Brixton being decorated for 2020 Black History Month.


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