For those who mourn next day post deliveries, imagine a time when the mail man was fined for failing to deliver, a time when if the mail coach was trapped in snow the mail man would have to get on his horse and ensure delivery.
And the ‘spy-in-the-cab’ or tachograph is nothing new - what about a sealed clock placed in your coach in London to record the exact time of your journey.
The fascinating “Historic Mail Route” across North Wales is a travelling exhibition, put together by Northop Heritage group and financed through rural development agency Cadwyn Clwyd, Flintshire County Council and the Northop Community Council.
Cadwyn Clwyd is funding from their Community Heritage Project, which is financed as part of the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Assembly Government.
Adam Bishop, Cadwyn Clwyd Heritage Officer, said: “Until the coming of the railway the mail coach was the way to travel and it is an enthralling story.
“Places like Northop were important staging points on the route and it all conjures up images of teams of horses galloping along with horns blowing to clear the route and a guard with a blunderbuss to discourage highwaymen.”
The bilingual exhibition will first go on public display at the Edith Bankes Memorial Hall in Northop 5.30pm to 8pm on February 11 and then open to the public all day Saturday February 12.
After Northop the exhibition will move on to other venues across Flintshire & North Wales.
David Waller is Chairman of the volunteer Northop Heritage Group, who have also co-operated on a new Community Booklet for Northop being launched on the same day, also funded through Cadwyn Clwyd as part of a series.
“The post boys really started in Henry VIII’s time,” said Mr Waller.
“Northop was the first staging post in Wales after Chester, and was a very important stopping point for coaches travelling between London and the Holyhead ferry for Ireland.
“The exhibition comprises six door-sized panels illustrating different facets of the mail route, starting with the post boys, and then tracing how the service developed with the stage mail coaches and pioneers like Ralph Allen and John Palmer.
“It looks at the hazards of the journey, particularly crossing the Conwy and Menai before there were bridges, and the ferry service run by the Williamson family at Menai.
Mail coaches started passing through Northop in 1785 and the last one went through in the early 1800’s.
The decline of the route can be linked to Telford’s bridges over the Menai and Conwy from 1826 when the coaching route started to favour the A5, rather than what we think of today as the A55 route.
And of course the more efficient railway was another nail in the coffin. The very last mail coach in the UK was to Thurso in August 1874.
In its heyday, Northop village supported six or seven inns, catering for travellers on the London-Holyhead trip.
Today there are two, the Boot and the Red Lion, which was believed to have been a staging post.
“The cost of travelling at the time would have been colossal,” said Mr Waller.
“Although we would have seen it as hazardous and extremely uncomfortable, it was a luxury mode of transport. When it was really cold they would pack the inside of the coach with hay - a sort of duvet!
At its best the London-Holyhead mail coach would cover the 261 miles in 27 hours, changing horses 27 times - hardly competition for a locomotive, but not bad for genuine “horse power”.
The Heritage Group have secured fascinating photographs, from old postcards, the Royal Mail itself, and the exhibition is full of beautiful pictures and sketches.