Parcel Post

Ellen Hawley’s post “A quick history of the Royal Mail” had me digging out this old cigarette card about a delivery experiment from the late 19th century.

parcel delivery

British Post Office Centre-Cycles

A number of Centre-Cycles (five-wheeler carrier machines) were used by the Post Office in the Horsham area in 1883, about the time of the introduction of the parcel post.

Above the small wheels of the Centre-Cycle were brackets supporting large baskets for carrying correspondence and parcels. Because of the arrangement of its four small wheels clustered round the centre big wheel, it was familiarly known as the “Hen and Chickens.”

These Centre-Cycles were not generally successful and their use was discontinued.
(Number 11 in a series of 50 cards issued by John Player & Sons in 1939.)

Can’t imagine why they didn’t catch on. They look so light and manoeuvrable!

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2 thoughts on “Parcel Post

  1. Okay, I’ve been studying those for–well, seconds at least, and I still can’t figure out how they turned a corner. Maybe that was the problem–they never came back from that first run.

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    • I think some kind of lever system from the handlebars turned both front wheels. A classic case of over-engineering, like a penny-farthing with trainer wheels. Hard to maintain your dignity on one of those but you can see they’re trying their best, poor things.

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