What the postman saw

THE messages written on the backs of old picture postcards can reveal interesting things about the way people communicated in years gone by.

Postcard No 1

Here are three Woking postcards worthy of scrutiny. It’s worth noting that they were the fastest way most people could exchange messages at a time when very few had telephones and telegrams were for emergencies unless you had plenty of money.

In those days, people could rely on at least three – sometimes five – postal deliveries and collections per day. So if you penned a short message on a postcard and dropped it into the nearest  postbox, you could guarantee it would be collected, sorted and delivered pretty quickly.

The message on the reverse of postcard 1, that features Woking’s original town hall with the former Methodist Church next door, is postmarked “Woking, 9pm, 28 August 1908”.

It was sent to Mr Marshall in Windsor from someone called Betty. She wrote: “I have sent you the photo of one of the most prettiest buildings there is in Woking. I shall be very glad to get back to Win sor. I will bring you a bit of tobacco back with me, also Jonnie. Give my love to all at home, hoping you all are keeping well.”

Postcard No 2

The recipient of postcard 2, featuring Horsell Church, Miss Eva Hives, of 13 George Road, Guildford, was receiving directions from the sender – signature just a squiggle – encouraging her to visit. Of interest here is the fact the sender used a card featuring a photograph of a landmark for Eva to look out for. The card is postmarked “Woking, 9pm, 27 November, 1910”.

The message reads: “I wish you would try and ride over, come Chobham Road and past the hospital and then it’s the first turning on the left as you pass over the bridge. If you ask the way to the church you will soon find us. But road comes just before you get to the church. I am sending this in case you come to try.

“If it had been fine today I was coming over, but of course wet as usual, how lovely. Yours in haste.”

On postcard 3, received by Miss Newick of Swaylands Dairy, Penshurst, near Tonbridge, Kent, the postmark is 14 September 1917 – during the First World War. The sender, Ted, gave the address he was writing from: 4 Grove Cottages, High Street, Horsell. The picture is of Chertsey Road, Woking.

Postcard No 3

He wrote: “Dear Gillian, got discharged from hospital on Thursday morning. Did not know until Wednesday night so I got home last night at 6.30. Will write a letter later on. With best love, Ted.”

Often people included in their message that they would be writing a follow-up letter. It’s similar today, when people send a few words as a text message on a mobile phone, and then call later for a chat.

If  you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: davidrosemedia@gmail.com

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