Halifax Philatelic
Society Banner Halifax Coat of Arms.

This site was last updated on 10 May 2018

About Us   ::   Our Meetings   ::   Contact Us

Society Officers   ::   Our Syllabus of Meetings

Links   ::   Halifax Postal History


Halifax Philatelic Society was founded in 1937, and offers stamp collectors in and around Halifax friendly and informal meetings, opportunities to buy and exchange material, and regular meetings where members can see varied displays and meet fellow collectors. We welcome both beginners and experienced stamp collectors and postal historians. Our experienced collectors are always ready to help new collectors to develop and improve their collections with advice, to answer questions and try to solve philatelic problems.

We are affiliated to the Association of British Philatelic Societies (ABPS) and the Yorkshire Philatelic Association (YPA), and our members enjoy the additional benefits this brings in discounts from certain philatelic suppliers and participation in national and regional exhibitions and conventions.

Our Annual Subscriptions are: Seniors £10; Juniors £1


Visitors are always welcome at our meetings. If you are a stamp collector why not come along and find out more about our Society? See our Syllabus below for details of our meetings.

We meet at the premises of J & C Joel Ltd, Corporation Street, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax HX6 2QQ, on Monday evenings, commencing at 7.30pm.


Our Hon Secretary: Adrian Lee
2 Wood View, Halifax, HX3 0HH
Telephone: 01422 364952


President: Mr C H Squire

Vice President: Mr R Dearnley

President Elect: Dr O Heathcote

Hon Secretary: Mr Adrian Lee

Syllabus Secretary: Mr M Smith

Hon Treasurer: Mr Brian Wilkinson

Librarian: Dr R T Unwin FRPSL

Committee: Mr D Armitage, Mr D Whitworth<, Mr C H Squire

Auditor: Mr R Mannings

YPA Delegate: Mr M Roberts (Ilkley)

OUR SYLLABUS for 2018 to 2019 will be posted when available


Diary of Philatelic Events

Yorkshire Philatelic Association Home Page

More links on the Yorkshire Philatelic Association's Links Page

Halifax Town (All about Halifax)


by Geoffrey Washington

This article was written in 2008 and is reproduced with acknowledgement from the web site 'Halifax Town'.

Sending written messages has been done by one method or another since around 3,000 BC, but surviving records from our area are much more recent than that. Oliver Heywood (1630-1703), a former Vicar of Coley, was a prolific letter writer and his first reference to receiving a letter by post is in 1682. A letter from Jeremy Lister in London to his brother is dated 1684.

In 1759, three deliveries of post arrived from London each week carried by horse drawn carriages travelling at 3 to 5 miles per hour, with the journey taking around three days. Horse drawn posts were armed as they were very vulnerable to attack and had frequent encounters with highwaymen, even in the environs of Halifax. In those days, the White Lion Inn in Silver Street was used as a collection and delivery point.

The earliest record of a post office in Halifax dates from 1770 when the office was on the site of the present Bowling Green public house in Winding Road which is curiously very close to the present sorting office at the bottom of Gaol Lane.

The first Post-mistress was Mary Wainman, who was paid the handsome sum of £60-3s-4d per year for her labours. This, in comparison with similar positions elsewhere in Yorkshire at the time, was considered to be a high salary. Subsequently, the Postmaster at the Winding Road Office was John Bagnold, followed on his death by his wife Tabitha.

By 1823 the Halifax Post Office had moved to 6 Westgate, when one postman was sufficient to deliver all the mail in Halifax. However, a second postman was required in 1837 at which time the premises were at 10 Cheapside, and by 1840 a third man was appointed. This reflected the growing postal business in the town.

However in the period 1847-1851 there developed among the business fraternity a widespread dissatisfaction with the postal facilities in Halifax, so much so that in 1849 the Halifax Courier suggested a subscription list should be opened to pay for better premises. Hence in 1851 new premises financed by private subscription were taken up at 6 George Street, adjoining the Union Bank, (later Somerset House). The public entrance was in George Street, but the mail was brought in through a yard behind the Griffin Hotel. It was said that Halifax had one of the most commodious and convenient Post Offices in Yorkshire. Not only that, the public enjoyed the benefit of a well regulated and illuminated clock in the doorway of these high class premises.

By 1859, the postal staff had increased to four clerks, a stamper, and an outdoor delivery force of eight postmen with 22,000 letters being delivered per week. But the work of the Post Office was growing. For example, the Post Office Savings Bank was established in 1861 and was administered from George Street, as was the newly developed telegraph business in 1870. The increased load made these premises inadequate for the purpose and new accommodation was sought.

So it was in 1887 that the present purpose built General Post Office was opened in Commercial Street, an area which was just developing as a commercial centre of Halifax. The new building also provided for sorting arrangements and a telephone exchange above the public counter. Subsequently, several alterations were made, in 1909/10 the sorting office was extended and in 1927 the extension into the Old Cock Yard was made.

Since 1927 various modifications have been made to the Commercial Street Office, but the most fundamental change was made in 1972 when the purpose built administrative offices and sorting office were opened at the bottom of Gaol Lane, so near to the first known Post Office in Halifax over 230 years ago. So far as can be ascertained most, if not all, of the sorting is now done in Bradford or Leeds.


This is an on-going project to show items of Halifax postal history. If you have items to include please email the Webmaster (below) with a suitable caption and an image (preferably as a jpeg image).

The Straight Lined Hand-stamps

The earliest recorded postal markings for Halifax were straight single-lined and two-lined hand-stamp in use from 1708 to 1781 struck in black in various sizes, thus:


1708 to 1781


1732 to 1797

(see the British County Catalogue of Postal History, Volume 4, by R M Willcocks and B Jay for full details).

Mileage Marks

In the eighteenth century main postal routes radiated from London, and since letters were charged for the distance carried as well as the number of sheets and weight, it was important for receiving offices to know how far a letter had been carried as they were responsible for collecting the charge where the letter was unpaid. Therefore mileage marks were introduced showing each town's distance from London.

Halifax was first surveyed as being 198 miles from London and the earliest mileage marks from about 1786 show a straight line 'HALIFAX' with '198' below. The route was re-surveyed a few years later and the mileage had changed, probably because a different route was being used - the distance then being 214 miles and the mileage was changed to '214' in 1801. Circular mileage marks came into use in 1811.

The Double Arced Circular Cancellations

Circular hand-stamps with a double arc at the base were in use from about 1828.

The 'Skeleton' Marks

The so called 'Skeleton Marks' were in use from 1839 to 1847. These types of marking had a trial from the late 1830’s to the 1850’s. Being of moveable type they were used as ‘Travelling Stamps’, described in The British County Catalogue as ‘Shifting Stamps’ and also known as ‘Skeleton’ marks.

The Barred Oval and Duplex Cancellations

From May 1844 a series of numbered cancellations were issued to English and Welsh towns alphabetically. Halifax was allocated number '330'. Early cancellers were horizontal bars in the shape of an oval. Later they became vertical barred ovals with a circular date stamp alongside - the so called 'duplex' cancels. They were in use until the squared circle postmarks took over, but in many places are found in use much later.

Duplex Cancel.
1881 Halifax Barred Oval Duplex
Duplex Cancel on
Fiscal Stamp.
1881 1d Fiscal stamp cancelled
with Halifax Barred Oval.

The Squared Circle Postmarks

The squared circles postmarks were introduced in the United Kingdom in late 1879 as an alternative to the duplex cancels, which were somewhat larger and more cumbersome to use. The additional arcs constituted the "killer" that marked the stamp as having been used. They declined in use from the 1910s, when new types of cancelling devices became available, and disappeared by the 1930s.

The 20th and 21st Centuries

Modern postal history is seen by many as boring and not worth collecting - but can nevertheless be an interesting field to study.

1905 Registered cover.
1905 (1 May) Registered letter put in at Lightcliffe,
thence via the main Halifax office to Guernsey.

Return to top of Page

Contact the Webmaster