1971 Postal Strike – Emergency Posts in Wales

The 1971 British Postal Strike lasted for 43 days from 20 January until 6 March. The Royal Mail relinquished its monopoly of the post and independent firms could act as emergency postal services. Many hundreds of small postal services arose almost overnight and these have provided collectors with a vast array of Cinderella philatelic material. Here are some stamps from Welsh examples of 1971 Postal strike.

Many of the postal services were provided by taxi cab companies, who could act as local couriers. One such as this was operated by Little David Cars in Flintshire covering the area between Abermorddu, Saltney and Hawarden, not far from the English-Welsh border near Chester. The A.S.H. Dai Bach courier service used a small fleet of the new Mark 3 Ford Cortinas, which are featured on the stamps. The stamps were cheaply produced and roulette perforated. This service was only recently reported in the autumn of 2012, which quite coincidence, if you see what I mean.

A more flamboyant service was provided in Cardiff by a Mr Lee, who originally came from Hong Kong having bought a boat ticket to Canton in 1936. How was he to know that Cardiff boasted a district near the docks called Canton? He settled in and became a colourful local character. Mr Lee was one of the first to be authorised to run a postal service and out came an old bicycle rickshaw, which he cleaned up and repainted oriental style. He became a familiar figure in the centre of Cardiff on his rickshaw piled up with letters and parcels during those 7 weeks.

In North Wales, the Dee Valley Postal Service covered the area between Llangollen and Corwen. It was run by a group who called themselves the Old Ladies of Llangollen, and they are pictured thus on the stamps. But considerable doubt has been placed on this description of them. It has been suggested that the Old Ladies reversed this, and were neither old nor ladies. This is borne out with some locals remembering them well, ferrying the mail at speed on motorbikes up and down the A5, albeit dressed in the traditional welsh female attire.

During the strike arrangements were also made for mail to be posted abroad via emergency post regulations. For the inhabitants of the remote Welsh Antarctic Daipendency, for whom mail was a lifeline, a trial printing of the new decimal definitives was pressed into service with an EMERGENCY POST overprint and a higher value surcharge in red. The 1p Enormous Squid was revalued 10p. The Enormous Squid is reported to grow up to 50 metres long and is able to drag entire ships down to the depths of the Antarctic Ocean. The 3p Obese Penguin was revalued 15p. The Obese Penguin may have the greatest girth. Its rarity is due to its short life span, and it has recently been discovered that it is the only bird in the world to have type II diabetes. The Welsh scientists are studying this bird in the hope of improving the overall health of the city of Cardiff. The 5p Ruswal was revalued 25p. The Ruswal is the southern version of the walrus. Its distinction is that its tusks are lower teeth growing upwards; useful for breaking the ice when surfacing from the depths. The 10p Sea Serpent was revalued 50p. No net is big enough to catch one, no dead specimens have ever been found, and no photographs have ever been taken of it. However, it has been seen by several of the Welsh seal shepherds and scientists living there and, though they had forgotten their cameras on the days it was sighted, luckily they had had the foresight to take sketch pads and pencils with them.

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1971 Royal Mail Postal Strike

SK NumberTypeDescription
282204ASH Dai Bach courier 15p yellow
283ASH Dai Bach courier 25p red car
284205Canton Postal Service 2/-
285Canton Postal Service 5/-
286Canton Postal Service 10p
287Canton Postal Service 25p
288206Dee Valley Post Service 25p
289207Welsh Antarctic Territory 1p with Emergency Post overprint - surcharged 10p
290208Welsh Antarctic Territory 3p with Emergency Post overprint - surcharged 15p
291209Welsh Antarctic Territory 5p with Emergency Post overprint - surcharged 25p
292210Welsh Antarctic Territory 10p with Emergency Post overprint - surcharged 50p

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