Post Boxes in the UK and Australia Compared

As you know, I usually like to end the week with a YouTube video on a Friday. But this week, I’m kind of YouTubed out.

We had a YouTube video on Monday when we looked at the Mothers Day Classic at Canberra, and we had another YouTube on Wednesday frighteningly portraying Australia’s future following the possible effects of coal seam gas exploration.

I think that’s enough YouTube videos for one week. So today I’m going to talk about post boxes, or pillar boxes as they are sometimes called. Either way, it’s the red thing you pop your letters into to send them somewhere.

So, how do they compare between our two countries?

Post Boxes in the UK

Here’s a picture of a UK post box…

UK Post BoxSource: sludgeulper

It’s a beaut, isn’t it? Complemented, for sure, by the London bus in the background.

As you can see, it’s red, it’s about 5 foot or 1.5 metres tall and it’s round. It has one slot for your letters at the top, but I vaguely recall seeing some postboxes in the UK that were wider and had two slots.

If I remember correctly, one slot was for mail destined for the UK and the other slot for international mail. Which brings me to….

Post Boxes in Australia

Some of you might remember we lost our local Bellbowrie post office in the Brisbane floods of January 2011. Well, we got a new post office a month or two ago and with it a shiny new Australian post box…

Australia postboxAs you can see, it’s red, it’s about 5 foot or 1.5 metres tall and its not so round.

Unlike the UK postbox above, it has two slots in which to put your letters, one on the left and one on the right. Underneath each of those slots are written some words. I wonder what they say?

Perhaps one is for state mail and the other for mail heading to a different state? Or maybe, just like the postboxes I think I’ve seen in the UK, one slot is for letters posted to within the country and the other slot is for international mail?

So I carefully read the text on both sides. Apart from the Australia Post logo on the right, it’s exactly the same.

Let’s take a closer look…

Australia postbox close-upSo why the two slots then? Anybody know?

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • David Hunt January 15, 2015, 1:28 am |

    Glad you liked it Bob. One thing I forgot to mention about the box you show was its rarity. I don’t know if you looked at the cipher ? !!. It is one of just a few larger sized Edward 8th boxes. Due to his abdication in late 1936, only a few were cast. About 150/160 approx A and B sized in total of which the majority are the smaller B size. It is thought though, that there may have been a few more in readiness but changed to George 6th instead. None were sent abroad apparently. I showed your box on our e-mail circuit asking where it is and they have come up with Maryland in the London Borough of Newham, East London. I found another photo of the box in a 2010 e-mail showing it without the railings so we don’t know when they were put there. (Or taken away!!). When was your photo taken?

    Kind regards. Dave H.

    • BobinOz January 15, 2015, 9:11 pm |

      I can’t help you with this David, is not actually one of my photographs. I got it from Flickr and if you click on the name underneath it, the source, you can visit sludgeulper’s page and that might give you some more clues as to where it came from.

      It certainly London somewhere, the big red bus in the background is a clue on that. Maybe sludgeulper can help you.

      Cheers, Bob

  • David Hunt January 14, 2015, 1:33 am |

    Greetings from the UK. I am an active member of the Letter Box Study Group in England and we have members in other countries as well as the UK. We have at least one in NSW in Oz, and he writes in with photos etc on a regular basis. There is a huge variety of boxes in the UK and to anyone interested, it is a fascinating interest to follow. I suggest you take a look at their website. You will be amazed at the knowledge we have. I personally, but am not the only one, have taken loads of Australian box photo’s when on a visit to Tasmania. I have also travelled extensively in NZ and seen nearly all their Christchurch made Penfold pillar boxes. I hope you enjoy our website and who knows?, you may like to join in with us, Kind regards. Dave H 1952. (As I am known to the group).

    • BobinOz January 15, 2015, 12:13 am |

      Who knew such a thing existed, I’ve checked it out, it’s everything you ever wanted to know about letterboxes anywhere. If anyone wants to check it out, here is the link…

      Makes my letterbox collection look very small indeed 🙂 Thanks for the info David, very good.

  • CarloHilton April 4, 2013, 10:06 am |

    Those UK style post boxes can be found in Australia in the older cities/areas. Uncommon but they’re about!

    • BobinOz April 5, 2013, 12:39 am |

      I never knew. But from here on, I will keep my eyes peeled, I’m sure I will see one one day.

      • Kavil Martin May 14, 2016, 11:05 pm |

        There is one in Mudgee, NSW, and two in Wallsend, NSW. near Newcastle.

        • BobinOz May 15, 2016, 9:41 pm |

          Ah, interesting, thanks Kavil.

  • Declan September 13, 2012, 12:55 pm |

    I’ve seen some here in the UK with two. One is for franked mail and the other is for the stamped mail!

    • BobinOz September 13, 2012, 2:29 pm |

      Yes, that makes sense. Two different posting holes, each assigned for a specific type of letter.

  • Afton June 3, 2012, 2:47 am |

    I just love UK post boxes, much more style … the old PMG boxes had style, but alas no more.

    • BobinOz June 4, 2012, 1:07 am |

      They are a work of art, aren’t they? I sometimes wonder if brand new post boxes in the UK have so much quality about them, or if they are now producing a cheaper postbox.

      Anyone know?

      • Chris June 25, 2012, 11:01 pm |

        We do still have the big old proper ones (or DangerMouse would become homeless!) but they tend to be near town/city centre post offices. In the suburban areas, they tend to be little red boxes (

        At least, that seems to be the situation in the midlands!

        • BobinOz June 27, 2012, 6:03 pm |

          That’s still quite a nice looking postbox though, is it? We also have post boxes on sticks around here, but I’ve not had a close look at one yet. I will stop to take a look at one next time I drive past, I know there is one not far from here. Maybe I’ll take a photo!

          Cheers Chris.

  • Mandy Melville-Love May 30, 2012, 12:15 am |

    Some on the ones in the UK have 2 which can be used for any type of mail. Maybe it’s in case one side fills up??

    • BobinOz May 30, 2012, 8:48 pm |

      Perhaps it’s for when two people arrive at the postbox both wanting to post a letter at the same time, they can both post together? Saves them forming the queue.

      In which case, brilliant idea! Maybe I should have thought of that before I wrote this post…

  • Ruth May 19, 2012, 11:07 am |

    It’s purely to confuse migrants – a little joke from the Aussies. The first time I tried to use one I actually had to go in to check, just in case my ‘international’ postcard might go in the ‘regional’ slot by mistake. Get your own back by calling a ‘koala’ a ‘koala bear’ and watch the post office staff react.

    • BobinOz May 19, 2012, 11:56 pm |

      It works, confused me!

      As for the “koala bear” thing, I’ve got a post somewhere that refers to them as koala bears and you should see the comments I got! It really does wind people up, doesn’t it?

      Certainly one to keep in reserve, for when it’s needed 🙂

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