The great Southside postbox tour

Everyday objects tell a story and none more so than the humble pillar box, for on each is the monogram of every king and queen since Victoria.

The Southside is unique in having a box from the era of all six monarchs within easy walking distance.

Sean McGlade, a local tourist guide, designed and led a walk recently visiting featuring this unique journey through postal and royal history.

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Nine history buffs gathered on the blazing hot May Bank Holiday Monday to walk from Queens Park Station down Pollokshaws Road and across Queens Park itself to Cathcart Road, stopping at post boxes from different eras along the way.

Walk leader Sean explained: “The idea of a box for letters came from a Postal Inspector called Anthony Trollope in the 1850’s (he is perhaps better known for his other job as a novelist and author of ‘The Barchester Chronicles’).

“The idea caught on and now there are around 100,000 pillar boxes throughout the United Kingdom. Originally the boxes were green but, as people kept walking into them, it was decided to change the colour to a more vivid red.

Post boxes were changed in their design according to the king or queen on the throne when they were installed.

“So the oldest bear the insignia of Victoria and the latest that of Queen Elizabeth the Second. Except that in Scotland, there were objections when Elizabeth II came to power since it was argued that there was no Elizabeth I of Scotland so how could there possibly be an Elizabeth II?

“After a heated campaign, it was decided that the insignia of the present Queen would not appear on Scottish boxes and indeed that the Scottish crown rather than the English crown be depicted. A rare early victory for the Independence lobby!”

Another unique aspect of Glasgow is the fact that it has quite a few boxes from the reign of Edward VIII who was on throne for only one year before abdicating.

It is estimated that only 161 pillar boxes with his name on them were ever erected but, for some reason, quite a few of those seem to have been installed in Glasgow!

The walk finished back where it started on Pollokshaws Road where participants adjourned to a local coffee shop to discuss their findings over a refreshing brew. History is thirsty work after all!

For further information on history walks on the Southside and throughout the rest of Glasgow, why not have a look at Seans website at