Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 29, 2020
Webpage updated: April 29, 2020




The Postal Sorting Office in Cemetery Road, Pennycomequick.
  Plymouth Library Service.

On Sunday March 25th 1928 the Sorting Offices at North Road Plymouth Station and the General Post Office at Devonport were transferred to the new Postal Sorting Office in Cemetery Road, Pennycomequick.   (Technically it was on the Devonport side of the boundary).  It was opened the following day, without any ceremony.

The four-storey, brick building cost nearly 70,000 to construct and each of the floors measured 245 feet by 47 feet.  It was used temporarily during the 1927 Christmas rush and proved very successful.  Its proximity to North Road Station was a great asset, mail being transferred between there and the sorting office by means of electric trucks travelling via the steel bridge that connected the two points.

An automatic lift was installed to convey both personnel and mails to each floor and in addition there were gravity chutes to enable mails to be passed quickly to any other floor or the loading yard in the basement.

Letters and parcels were sorted on the top floor, where there were also facilities for registered parcels, an office for the postal superintendent, and his office staff.  A small electric lift enabled the registered letters to  be conveyed to the floor below, where the postmen were situated.  On this floor were the "pigeon holes" for the first stage of sorting, i.e. into postal towns, His Majesty's ships and the classification of local letters into roads.   At another part of the third floor was the automatic franking machine and provision for hand-stamping parcels.

From there, the mail was sent down to the second floor, where the letters were sorted into the "walks" covered by the individual postmen.  The Chief Inspector of Postmen had an office on this floor and there was also another registered letter office.

On the ground floor were offices for the Chief Inspector of Postmen and other supervisory staff, retiring rooms for the postmen and a public waiting-room.  Here, too, the delivery vehicles were loaded and unloaded.

The sub-ground floor, as the basement seems to have been known, housed the heating and hot-water apparatus and a charging chamber for the electric trucks used to transfer mail from between the sorting office and North Road railway station.  There was also a storeroom for letter and parcel sacks, which Plymouth distributed over a wide area.  A kitchen, a canteen, recreation and smoking rooms were provided for the staff alongside accommodation for motor-cycles, push-bikes and space for 20 delivery vans.  These were all maintained by their own mechanics and at the outside of the building was a petrol pump to supply fuel from their own 1,000 gallon tank.