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Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 17:28 UK
Museum delivers postal history
Row of post boxes
Stephen began collecting post boxes 10 years ago and now has 105 of them

A museum in Halstead is the home to the second largest private collection of post boxes in the country.

The Colne Valley Postal History Museum, located in the garden of Stephen Knight's home, has 105 post boxes spanning from 1859 to the present day.

The collection also includes a variety of other postal related memorabilia.

"I fell in love with the red letter box about 10 years ago - it's so iconic and is part of the British street scene," said curator Stephen.

"They've mostly come from Royal Mail, but we're very lucky now we are a registered museum they are actually able to be donated to us," he added.

"But in the old days, you could just turn up at the post office and ask them and they would sell you one."

Musuem building
The museum is housed in the building of a former rural post office

The collection comprises a variety of post boxes, of various designs, dating back to Victorian times - many of which have required a great deal of restoration.

"[We have] one of the first wall boxes in the UK to receive letters and the design hasn't really changed since," said Stephen.

"We also have a hexagonal Victorian one in the collection from 1866, but they did eventually go back to being round because it is so much easier to handle and you get a very good volume of letters for the height and space it takes up on the street."

As well as the post boxes, Stephen has also built up a vast collection of paraphernalia that would have been found in rural post offices down the years.

Adding to the retro feel, these items are housed in his self-built sub-post office.

Items include stamp vending machines, balances for weighing the letters, cancelling equipment for cancelling the stamps, vendors for the little registered labels.

Interior of the post office museum
As well as post boxes. the museum has a variety of related memorabilia

"We are due to get a telephone kiosk in the next couple of months," added Stephen.

"I've actually taken it to bits, because it's going to have to come through the house first and then into the garden.

"That will go down to the bottom of the garden with the telegraph poles and the rest of the pillar boxes."

The Colne Valley Postal Museum is open to the public on 13, September from 10 am to 4 pm as part of Heritage Open Days.

Visits at other times can also be made by appointment only by visiting the CPVPHM website.

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