As you would probably understand, when the UK Postal Service or the Post Office was established in 1635, its sole function was to carry dispatches on behalf of the King.
Since that day, the Post Office has carried out this very important duty and has developed into a friendly but not always profitable place where members of the Great British public can go along, post their mail, pay their bills and take advantage of a list of other facilities set up for their convenience.
Since its establishment, the Post Office was run under the governorship of a civil servant with the imposing title of “Postmaster General” However, in 1969, the government nationalized the Post Office, and nowadays, it is run as ostensibly a profit-making operation.
Long before its nationalization, the Post Office began to diversify its services, firstly to spread its overheads as well as to meet the demands and suggestions of its clients, the British Public. Not all of the Post Office’s ventures were profitable and efficient, and most were allowed to die a natural death. One aspect of the Post Office’s services that has withstood the test of time and has even gone on to become a “stand-alone” division is Post Office banking (Everyday Banking).
The first traces of banking services operating within the Post Office go back to the end of the eighteenth century. The Post Office began to develop a kind of money order, initially for their employee’s use only. This allowed them to send money to a relative in another part of the country, where they could be taken to the nearest Post Office branch and cashed.
These predecessors to the postal order proved to be highly successful, and the Post Office began to offer them as a general service to the public. The idea caught on very well, and the Post Office found it hard to cope with the initial demand and even contemplated phasing out the service.
However, such was the interest that the Post Office persevered and eventually ironed out the problems they were having. This breakthrough probably was the prime element in the successful formation of the Post Office Bank.
In 1861 another major step forward was the establishment of the Post Office Savings Bank. The thinking behind this scheme was that the public, who had become used to the Post Office as a friendly face, long before the days of advertising as we know it, could be encouraged to deposit some of their income into an interest-bearing savings account.
The government of the time was interested in keeping as much of the banking system outside of private hands, and they saw the post office as an ideal means of keeping the public’s money in government coffers. In principle, while the idea seemed logical, it was less than successful at the beginning and incurred some pretty serious losses.
It seemed that the UK public at large was not inclined to be thrifty and spent whatever they had left in their pay packets on having a good time and forgetting their problems. A trend that appears to continue to this day.
The privatization of the Post Office in the late nineteen sixties seemed to spark off a kind of renaissance of increased efficiency and profitability. Profitability was in turn re-invested in the group causing a considerable revamping of its image among the UK population.
In the early nineteen eighties, a committee was established to study the workings of the UK Post Office. Their findings were that the organization be split into two separate units, one to handle telecommunications and the other to handle banking and postal services. This unit was formed into several sub-divisions, with Post Office banking being the most predominant.
Today the Post Office, as owners of the largest telecommunications substructure in the United Kingdom, as well as across-the-counter banking, provides an up to the minute range of banking services to the consumer as well as to the business community. The Post Office work in tandem with many of the UK’s leading banks, building societies, and government agencies to provide as comprehensive a range of services imaginable, including Everyday Banking.