The GPO in London - An Historical Summary
...spanning the centuries.
GPO Sites in London

These pages are to develop source material about selected historical GPO sites in London.

From about 1880, as the General Post Office (GPO) expanded its operations across London, the main headquarters was thence known as GPO East, to distinguish it from the (new) sites, North, South and West.

As part of the government, many GPO buildings were designed by architects from the Ministry of Works.



Photo: Faraday Building - GPO South. © LSA July 2010 
| EXIT to GPO Index | The Ministry of Works | Summary of GPO Sites | GPO North | GPO South | GPO East | GPO West
| Post Office Savings Bank HQ |

Introduction


As part of the government and crown, many GPO buildings were designed by architects from the Ministry of Works...

Eric Bedford - Post Office Tower and Faraday Building extension.
Henry Tanner - Post Office Savings Bank HQ, Blythe House.



The Ministry of Works

The Office of Works existed as long ago as 1378 with a duty for the Royal Estate, buildings and residences of the king. From about 1851 the Office was responsible to Parliament. World War II established an urgent need for new government, office and utility buildings and so the Ministry of Works and Buildings was formed in 1940. The department went through many changes of title as its remit altered over the years:

  • 1940 to 1942 Ministry of Works and Buildings.
  • 1942 to 1943 Ministry of Works and Planning.
  • 1943 to 1962 Ministry of Works.
  • 1962 to 1970 Ministry of Public Building and Works.
  • 1970 became part of the Department of the Environment.
  • 1972 most functions transferred to PSA (Property Services Agency).
  • early 1990s splitting up of PSA and privatisation of services.

Post Office Circular (9.3.66) - "As part of the Government's dispersal programme the Accounts Division of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works is being moved from London to Hastings."

In the 21st century government buildings are maintained and developed with a mix of private/public contractors with an overall aim of value for money.



GPO North
GPO North
GPO North was built as the principal administration headquarters of the Post Office from 1894, and was sited between King Edward Street and St. Martin's-Le-Grand, Angel Street and Little Britain.


Photo: Nomura Centre - GPO North. © LSA July 2010
GPO South  
GPO South
GPO South was the North Block of Faraday Buildings, with a history dating back to the late nineteenth century.



Photo: GPO South - Carter Lane. © LSA September 2002
GPO East  
GPO East
Circa 1880, the General Post Office HQ was renamed GPO East.

GPO East was from St. Martin's-Le-Grand/Gresham Street to the south, and part way along Gresham Street.



Photo: GPO East - Gresham Street and General Post Office. © Upacut from an undated postcard by LL.
GPO West
GPO West
GPO West was the Central Telegraph Office which opened in 1874 bordered by Newgate Street, St. Martin's-Le-Grand, King Edward Street and Angel Street. The CTO was badly damaged in 1940 (apparently the only thing the Luftwaffe deliberately targeted that they actually hit), and only partly rebuilt after the war. It was demolished in 1967, and the site left derelict until the building of BT Centre which opened in 1984.


Photo: BT Centre - GPO West. © LSA July 2010
Post Office Savings Bank HQ
Blythe House
Blythe House was built between 1899 and 1903 as the headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank in West Kensington. In its heyday it employed approximately 4000 staff.

From the mid 1960s this also included Charles House which continued until the 1970s when the work was migrated out of London to Glasgow.


Photo: Blythe House - POSB HQ. © LSA September 2010
Northern District Office  
NDO
From about 1906, the Northern District Office, Upper Street, Islington N1 was developed as a major sorting and delivery hub for that area of London. It was here in Studd Street that the Post Office based its Stores Department HQ,  and the London Testing Section (LTS) for batch sampling of telephone equipment.




NDO site: Imagery © Google 2017.
 

The General Post Office (GPO) Sites

GPO North was built as the principal administration headquarters of the Post Office from 1894, and was sited between King Edward Street and St. Martin's-Le-Grand, Angel Street and Little Britain. It ceased to be the Post Office HQ in 1984, and has since been completely rebuilt within its original external walls. In the 1990s it was known as Nomura House, and is the home of Nomura International plc, who undertook its restoration. 

GPO South was in fact the North Block of Faraday, housing the Central Telephone Exchange and later the well known International Telephone Exchange. This was finally demolished in the early part of the 21st century.

GPO East was from St. Martin's-Le-Grand/Gresham Street to the south, and part way along Gresham Street.

GPO West was the Central Telegraph Office which opened in 1874 bordered by Newgate Street, St. Martin's-Le-Grand, King Edward Street and Angel Street. The CTO was badly damaged in 1940 (apparently the only thing the Luftwaffe deliberately targeted that they actually hit), and only partly rebuilt after the war. It was demolished in 1967, and the site left derelict until the building of BT Centre which opened in 1984.

Blythe House was built between 1899 and 1903 as the headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank in West Kensington. In its heyday it employed approximately 4000 staff. From the mid 1960s this also included Charles House which continued until the 1970s when the work was migrated out of London to Glasgow.

Links

British Post Office Buildings