The Mellish St postbox

Yesterday, as well as being the last day of the year was a beautiful cool summer Sunday morning and ideal for a walk before it got too hot.

For a change we decided to walk up to the old Lunatic Asylum, the initial design of which was originally based on the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum (later renamed the Friern Hospital) in London.

As it was our Sunday walk we took a circuitous route via the old train station and up Mellish Street to double back towards the hospital.

Near the top of Mellish Street I spied an old colonial era post box or more properly, receiving pillar, in among the shrubbery on the nature strip.


it had been decommissioned and was now officially a monument


and like many similar pillars had a clenched fist on the handle


something that seems to be a feature of Victorian colonial postboxes – certainly the old square model in Chiltern has one

chiltern victorian mailbox  chiltern hand as handle to mailbox

as does this rather neglected example in Balaclava just down from the train station

old and new postboxes balaclava

The real question was when did the box date from?

Well, there are a number of houses from the late 1850’s and the 1860’s at the top end of Mellish St, and the asylum started service in 1867, suggesting that there were a reasonable number of people living in the area by the 1870’s, and that they might merit the provision of a post box, given that they were a couple of kilometres from the main post office in town.

And there I stopped, but that phrase receiving pillar nagged at me. It seemed a little old fashioned, even for  the latter half of the Victorian era, so I did what anyone else would do and turned to Google.

Well, it turns out that receiving pillar was what the colonial postal service in Victoria called them. Other administrations may have also used the term but based on a Google search, Victoria seems to be the only postal administration to have used the term extensively.

What’s more a search of the Collections Victoria website brought up two examples, both in Warnambool one restored in 2014, the other in 1980. Both are the same 1885 full length door design, so we can guess that the Mellish Street box dates from 1885 or later. I didn’t think to look for a manufacturer’s plate or anything that could be used to date the box more securely, but I know what I’m doing next time I pass by …

About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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2 Responses to The Mellish St postbox

  1. Pingback: Balaclava Road | stuff 'n other stuff

  2. Pingback: Another nineteenth century post box | stuff 'n other stuff

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