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About Us

The Colonial Era

(Research was provided by the late Mr. Lloyd Weekes, Postmaster General from 1983-1985)

Barbados has one of the world’s oldest postal services. In 1663, during the reign of Charles II, England’s Imperial Post Office established a Packet Agency on the island.

Barbados is only the second island in the British West Indies to establish an Inland Post Service by an Act of Parliament. The local Legislature passed the Post Office Act in 1851.

Unlike the other Caribbean islands, British stamps were never used for domestic postage in Barbados. The first issue of “Barbados” stamps was placed on sale on April 15th, 1852, when the local Post Office also commenced operations. It is this date on which the anniversary of the Inland Post is celebrated.

An Act of Parliament in 1854, served to amalgamate the Imperial Packet Agency and the Inland Post Office. By 1858 the Packet Agency was abolished and all mail received became the responsibility of the Colonial Postmaster.

Ever an innovator, the Barbados Post introduced Registration and Money Order Services in 1861

The Parliament Buildings of Barbados were the headquarters of the Barbados Postal Service for 112 years – from 1872 to 1984. At this location, there were a number of firsts for the Barbados Post.

In 1874 the first stamps with values were introduced.

In 1881 the first wall posting boxes were erected.

In 1886, the Barbados Post inaugurated an International Parcel Service with England and in 1887 a similar arrangement was reached with the United States.

Over the 100 years in which the Post Office was headquartered in the Parliament Buildings, the Barbados Postal Service has made a valuable contribution to the social, economic and educational development of Barbados.

In the early 1900s when scores of Barbadians emigrated to the United States and Panama (and again in the 1950s, when there was also large scale immigration but to England) the Post was the primary means of facilitating communication between the migrants and their families at home.

In those years, the Post was the only Agency through which families received letters, gift parcels, and cash remittances from their relatives overseas.

The Parcel Post Department served as the means by which many of the dry goods and hardware stores imported their stock in that era.

Then World War II occurred and plunged the world into much uncertainty. Barbados was not unscathed. As a result of the War, a special department known as the Censor Office was created in 1939. This office was located in a room under the Senate in the Parliament Buildings, and there all incoming and outgoing overseas mail, which showed no sign of being censored, was intercepted. Letters and packets were opened to determine their content. Any reference to the movement of ships was blotted out to protect ships travelling in the region from espionage and then the mail was resealed with a special Censor Label.

 

Post war History

Research was provided by the late Mr. Lloyd Weekes, Postmaster General from 1983-1985)

The migratory periods during the 20th Century were very profitable periods for the Barbados Post with records showing that in the 1950s, British Postal Orders paid to Barbadians exceeded $3 million.

In 1958, Mr. Robert Clarke, the first Colonial Postmaster of African ancestry, had the foresight to introduce a shift system and extended business hours in order to better manage the increased business activity of the Post Office.

In an effort to contribute to the personal and professional development of postal workers, departmental training courses for clerical staff, Postal Assistants and Postmen were introduced in 1961.

The Barbados Philatelic Bureau was established in 1968 for the purpose of promoting the sale of postage stamps in the very lucrative philately market worldwide.

Following exposure to international developments in the postal service resulting from participation in conferences around the world, a highly specialised International Postal Affairs branch was introduced. This division was to be headed by a knowledgeable and experienced senior postal official. In 1971 therefore, a post of Assistant Postmaster General responsible for international postal affairs was established and Mr. Lloyd Weekes was appointed to the position on August 16, 1971.

As a result of involvement in the UPU, Barbados was able to host its first international postal conference, the pre-Congress Conference of Commonwealth Postal Administrations, from September 2nd to 5th, 1979. This meeting served as preparation for the 1979 Universal Postal Congress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during September and October.

In 1984 the Barbados Government, for the first time, authorised the Postmaster General to sign the Acts of the Hamburg Congress “ad referendum” in addition to the Minister with responsibility for the postal services. Prior to this Congress only the Minister was authorised to sign the Acts of Congress.

Another significant development in Barbados’ postal services was the introduction of the Express Mail Service to the USA and the United Kingdom from October 1st 1984. The idea to develop this service to attract new business and retain old customers came as a result of a Barbados delegation’s attendance at an International Express Mail Service Conference in Washington in 1983. This prompted Barbados to negotiate its first Express Mail Agreements with the USA and the UK during 1984.

Today, in spite of competition from commercial delivery services, the Barbados Post can boast of door-to-door delivery to more than 60,000 households in Barbados; thus contributing to our reputation for a highly developed postal service for all citizens.

This fine reputation has made Barbados a major player in regional postal policy.