Tuesday, February 5, 2019

It’s in the bag
From the early days until the late 1980s, mail was traditionally carried in canvas bags. Between towns and cities, the mail was moved by trains that sometimes included a Railway Traveling Post Office, the last of which was withdrawn in 1971. Mail would often be picked up, sorted and dropped off en-route, sometimes without the train slowing down or stopping. 

A loophole in the transport licensing rules at the time allowed for licensed bus services to also carry freight on scheduled routes; this saw a uniquely New Zealanddesigned bus that could carry goods at the back and passengers in the front; the composite. Ironically it was the Railways that operated many composite buses. Mail to and from overseas was also moved in canvas bags.

Photo: This picture shows three classic flat deck trucks of the 1950s and 1960s alongside the MV Wanganella in Wellington. Left to right they are: Bedford A, Ford Thames ET6 (Costcutter), and a Bedford OLB. From the ship’s side the mail would be taken to the Overseas Mail Branch for sorting and distribution around the country by rail or composite bus.