War Memorial Gary Trouton

Stoke Ferry Post offices

April 2008

Pat provides an intriguing insight into the early post offices in Stoke Ferry, including the Fruit Colony

Pat Holton writes: I was recently contacted by a retired accountant called John Forster. John lives in a village in Northamptonshire and collects postmarks (postal datestamps) from all over the world. He has sent me this note, and the accompanying illustrations.

The postal history of Stoke Ferry goes back further than most people might imagine. The first mention of a postal service in the village is in 1775, when it was acting as a post town, known simply as Stoke. By 1816 the name had been changed to Stoke Ferry. In 1828 a postmark of a type known as an undated circle was issued. An example of this postmark, taken from a letter posted in or around 1843, is shown here. Such postmarks showed only the name of the village, not the date. They were usually applied to the back of the letter and were not used to cancel the postage stamp. Between 1835 and 1840, Stoke Ferry had a Penny Post service, under Brandon.

Pigot's Directory of Norfolk, 1839, names Stoke Ferry's postmistress as Sarah Cawthorne.

A minor puzzle in local postal history surrounds the issue, in March 1910, of a rubber datestamp reading "FRUIT COLONY, STOKE FERRY, NORFOLK". The illustration of this postmark is from the GPO's proof book, which is a record of new datestamps issued. Why was this datestamp needed? Was it a permanent post office, or perhaps just seasonal, for the convenience of fruit-pickers in the area? For how long did it operate? A reader of this newsletter perhaps knows the answer to some of these questions, or might even have seen the datestamp in use on a picture postcard or envelope.

If you have any response I shall, of course, be interested to hear about it.

Best wishes, John Forster

Any information to the Editor please who will then pass it on to the appropriate person.

Pat Holton

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