History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

The Post Office Green Papers: 1934-1939
by Bill Burns

Early and late covers

The Post Office Green Papers consist of 47 booklets with card covers, published by the GPO between 1934 and 1939. Although a statement in No. 41 (see below) notes that the Papers were primarily for Post Office staff, the content of many of them was obviously directed at a general audience, and the booklets were almost all available to the public at no charge upon request:

“In so far as stocks permit, a complimentary copy of any paper published in this series will be forwarded post free to business organisations, educational authorities and so on, or to individual members of the public in Great Britain and Northern Ireland interested in its subject.”

The technical and engineering volumes were written by experts in the field, mostly employed by the Post Office, and all are to a high standard of both writing and illustration. Many of the Green Papers were taken from presentations at the Post Office Telegraph and Telephone Society of London; others were written especially for the series.

In Green Paper No. 8, Post Office Publicity (March 1935), Sir Stephen Tallent, Public Relations Officer of the GPO, commented on the importance of speeches, lectures and broadcast addresses in communicating the Post Office’s positions:

“We have lately issued to our staff six sets of lecture notes. We have prepared sets of slides to accompany them, and have indicated that a growing number of suitable Post Office films are available. We believe also that publications, such as the new Green Papers and the Post Office Magazine, will provide a fund of useful material for speakers in the Post Office name.”

Much of the material in the Green Papers has never been published outside the Post Office, and some of the more technical issues in Series B, C, and D will provide useful information for the telecommunications historian.

Details of the 47 Green Papers published between 1934 and 1939 are given below.



From Green Paper No. 41, July 1938:


The Post Office Green Papers are issued primarily for the information of the staff of the Post Office and are designed to place at the disposal of its officers up-to-date and accurate information on various aspects of Post Office work.

They are published in four series:
A—Postal & General.

No.   Title Series Date   Author Ref
1   The Air Mail Service A Mar 1934   F Williamson b
2   Room Noise and Reverberation D Aug 1934   W West b
3   London International Telephone Exchange D Sep 1934   S Birch, C H Hartwell b
4   Communications and the Manufacturer B Oct 1934   E S Byng b
5   Short History of the Telegraph C Oct 1934   H G Sellars b
6   Impressions of Continental Telephone Practice B Oct 1934   A Murphy b
7   Submarine Cable Engineering B Dec 1934   F G Ramsay sb
8   Post Office Publicity A Mar 1935   S G Tallents b
9   Pneumatic Tubes and Telegram Conveyors C Feb 1935   J E M McGregor b
10   Porcelain Insulators D Mar 1935   W H Brent b
11   Post Office Cycles A May 1935   H S Shipway b
12   Ship-Shore Wireless A Jun 1935   C G G Crawley b
13   Printed Papers A Jun 1935   R W Hatswell s
14   Telegraph Census C Jun 1935   E M Tostevin, F W Fox s
15   The Birth of the Postal Service A Jun 1935   C R Clear  
16   Staff Training in London A Jun 1935   G C Wickins, J D Pettigrew,
A Akester
17   Picture Telegraphy C Jun 1935   L V Lewis s
18   Recovered Stores A Jul 1935   T L Adamson s
19   Mechanical Aids in Sorting Offices A Aug1935   F Lane  
20   Directory Enquiries B Aug 1935   H W Smart, L E Magnusson  
21   Money Order Service, 1791-1935 A Oct 1935   J New  
22   Postal Circulation A Oct 1935   H A Jenkins s
23   Air Mail Operation A Feb 1935   D O Lumley  
24   Travelling Post Office A Mar 1935   J J C Rowden  
25   Acoustics of Telephony D Apr 1936   E G Richardson  
26   Voice-Frequency Telegraphy C May 1936   R J Vernon, C J Mercer s
27   Post Office Uniforms A Jun 1936   F J Raynham; W S G Calvert  
28   Motor Transport A Jun 1936   A Hudson s
29   Transfer to Automatics B Aug 1936   E W Gillett  
30   Post Office Savings Bank A Sep 1936   T M Shaw, J H Bannerman s
31   Post Office Medical Service A Oct 1936   H H Bashford s
32   Post Office Supplies A Jan 1937   A G Tydeman  
33   Telegraph Training in London C Mar 1937   R P Smith  
34   Post Office Regionalisation A May 1937   D J Lidbury  
35   Express Service A Jul 1937   F R Radice s
36   Post Office Railway A Sep 1937   W G Carter  
37   Telephone Service B Oct 1937   A C Belgrave s
38   Postal Orders A Jan 1938   B M Harrison, W G Potter  
39   The Dial and the Countryside B Mar 1938   L J Glanfield  
40   Post Office Investment Services A May 1938   R C Harry s
41   Modern Telegraph Practice C Jul 1938   F H S Grant s
42   International Postal Service A Sep 1938   R Davis s
43   Long-Distance Telephony B Nov 1938   J G Hines, R M Chamney  
44   Telephone Directories B Jan 1939   R B Green  
45   Air Mail A Mar 1939   D O Lumley  
46   Engineering Department D May 1939   E C Baker s
47   Exchange Equipment Planning B Sep 1939   J Reading  
1   A lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 20 November 1933, by Brigadier-General Sir Frederick Williamson, CB, CBE Director of Postal Services.
2   A lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on D11 December 1933, by W West, BA, AMIEE., Research Section, Engineer-in-Chief’s Office.
3   By S Birch and C H Hartwell, Equipment Section, Engineer-in-Chief’s Office. Reproduced from the Post Office Electrical Engineers’ Journal of July 1934.
4   A lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 15 January 1934, by E S Byng, Vice-Chairman and Joint Managing Director of Standard Telephones and Cables Ltd.
5   A lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 19 February 1934, by H G Sellars, Central Telegraph Office.
6   By A Murphy, Telegraph and Telephone Department, Traffic Section.
7   A lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 16 April 1934, by Captain F G Ramsay, MBE, Submarine Superintendent, Engineer-in-Chief’s Office.
8   By Sir Stephen Tallents KCMG, CB, CBE, Public Relations Officer, GPO. Adapted from a lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 15 October 1934.
9   By J E M McGregor ACGI, AMIEE. The paper on Telegram Conveyors is reproduced from the Post Office Electrical Engineers’ Journal of October 1933, and amended.
10   By W H Brent BSC, AMIEE. Engineering Department. Reproduced from the Post Office Electrical Engineers’ Journal of April 1934.
11   By H S Shipway, Stores Department
12   By Lt-Col C G G Crawley RM, MIEE. Inspector of Wireless Telegraphy. From a lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 19 November 1934.
13   By R W Hatswell MBE, formerly of the Postal Services Department.
14   By Elsie M Tostevin, Telecommunications Department, and F W Fox, Public Relations Department.
15   Thomas Witherings and the birth of the postal service : together with a copy and a transcription of the Proclamation of King Charles the First establishing the first State postal service for the conveyance of private letters in England and Scotland by Cecil Ridsdale Clear
16   Includes papers on the London Counter School by G C Wickins, the London Telephone Schools by J D Pettigrew, and the Engineer-in-Chief’s Training School by A Akester, AMIEE. The paper on the Engineer-in-Chief’s Training School is reproduced from the Post Office Electrical Engineers’ Journal of July 1934.
17   By L V Lewis, Telecommunications Department.
18   By T L Adamson, Stores Department.
19   A lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 18 February 1935, by F Lane, Postmaster Surveyor, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and J Davidson OBE, Assistant Controller London Postal Service.
20   Includes papers on telephone directory enquiries by H W Smart, technical aspects of the London Directory Enquiry Bureau by L E Magnusson, and the planning of a provincial Directory Enquiry Bureau by H W Smart. The paper on the technical apects of the London Directory Enquiry Bureau is adapted from an article by the same author in the Post Office Electrical Engineers’ Journal of October 1932.
21   By J New, formerly of the Money Order Department.
22   By H A Jenkins, Chief Superintendent, Chester.
23   Adapted from a lecture to the Conference of Postal Supervising Officers on 30 May 1935. By D O Lumley OBE, Postal Services Department.
24   By J J C Rowden, Chief Superintendent, London Postal Service.
25   By E G Richardson N.A., PHD, DSC, Lecturer in Physics, Armstrong College, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Reproduced from the Post Office Electrical Engineers’ Journal of April 1934, and amended.
26   Includes paper on the Multi-channel Voice Frequency System of Telegraphy by R J Vernon, AMIEE, Engineering Department, adapted from a lecture by the author to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 21 January 1935. Also includes a paper on the application of the Multi-channel Voice-Frequency System to the Inland Telegraph Service by C J Mercer OBE, MIEE formerly of the Engineering Department; this paper is reprinted, with some modifications, from the Post Office Electrical Engineers’ Journal of October 1933.
27   By F J Raynham and W S G Calvert, Stores Department.
28   From a lecture by Captain A Hudson, MBE, MIAE, Chief Motor Transport Officer.
29   By E W Gillett, Telecommunications Department.
30   By J M Shaw and J H Bannerman, Savings Bank Department.
31   By H H Bashford, MD, BS, MRCP, London, Chief Medical Officer, GPO.
32   By A G Tydeman, CBE, Controller, Stores Department.
33   Includes a paper on the CTO Telegraph School by A P Ogilvie, Assistant Controller CTO, and a paper on the Telegraph Testing and Maintenance School by R P Smith, AMIEE, Engineering Department.
34   A lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 18 January 1937, by D J Lidbury, DSO Reorganisation Branch Personnel Department.
35   By F R Radice, Postal Services Department.
36   By Major W G Carter, MC, Assistant Controller, London Postal Region.
37   By A C Belgrave, Telecommunications Department.
38   By Miss B M Harrison, Money Order Department, and W G Potter, formerly of the Stores Department.
39   By L J Glanfield, Telecommunications Department.
40   By R C Harry and G E Hughes, Savings Bank Department. Includes papers on government stock and government annuities.
41   A lecture to the Post Office Telephone and Telegraph Society of London on 21 February 1938, by F H S Grant, Telecommunications Department.
42   By E R Davis, Postal Services Department.
43   Includes paper on the British Long-Distance Network by Captain J G Hines, MIEE, formerly of the Engineering Department. Also includes paper on Long-Distance Telephony by R M Chamney, BSC, AKC, AM Inst.CE, AMIEE, Engineering Department.
44   By R B Green and D J Halliday, Stores Department.
45   The Brancker Memorial Lecture delivered by D O Lumley, OBE, Postal Services Department, before the Institute of Transport on 29 November 1938. Reprinted from the Journal of the Institute of Transport, January 1939.
46   By E C Baker, Engineering Department.
47   A lecture to the Post Office Telegraph and Telephone Society of London on 20 February 1939, by J Reading, BSC (Eng.), MIEE Engineering Department. Contains a note from October 1939, reading: ‘With the issue of No. 47, the Green Paper series is suspended for the duration of the war. Distribution of this Green Paper is restricted to Post Office Staff.’

Information from the author’s collection and
catalogue entries at The British Postal Museum & Archive

Last revised: 17 February, 2024

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