Parcels Service

The railways carried parcels for nearly 50 years before the Post Office started accepting anything other than letters and postcards in 1883. They continued to do so right up until fairly recent times.  Parcels trains were an important source of business and revenue.  Parcels were transported in special vans forming entire trains of parcels traffic, as part of ordinary passenger trains or just in a guard’s compartment.  Most stations had a parcels office where parcels could be brought for delivery by rail or collected.  Parcels could be collected or delivered locally using railway owned road vehicles ranging from bicycles to horse-drawn, latter motor, vans.

In common with other railway companies, the LNWR had parcels offices in major cities and large towns, even in places not directly served by the LNWR. In 1883, probably in response to the Post Office entering the parcels business, the company started offering free collection and delivery from commercial premises.   Of course, the Post Office had to use the railways for everything but local deliveries.

The LNWR kept a big fleet of road vehicles, from bicycles up to large horse-drawn vans, for local collection and delivery.  Younger readers might be surprised to know that next day delivery wasn’t invented by Amazon! The LNWR, in common with most railway companies, was offering next day delivery back in the 19th century.

Euston. The Christmas rush. The inside of parcels van No. 159 showing men at work stacking boxes, baskets, packages and trunks - the latter are stored on their sides. Shows the wood clad floor, ceiling and sides. Dec 1911.