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The first Royal Mail Box in the British Isles were erected at St Helier In Jersey in 1852. The first Post box on the UK mainland was erected at Botchergate Carlisle the next year in 1853. Another from the same year still stands at Barnes Cross Bishop's Caundle in Dorset. In 1856 Richard Redgrave of the Department of Science and the Arts designed an ornate Post Box for use in London and other cities. there is an example of this style in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Curiously Green was adopted as the standard colour for a while. Between 1866 and 1879 the hexagonal Penfold became the standard design and during this period red was introduced. The boxes were first painted red in 1874 but it took a decade for all post boxes in UK to be painted red.
By 1879 a cylindrical design was introduced and with few changes has remained the same ever since apart from a period when rectangular Boxes were introduced-1968-1979. There are some double entry post boxes and a variety of shapes and sizes of Post Boxes attached to walls. Also there have been some Telephone Boxes that incorporated a Post Box as well and Postboxes with a stamp machine attached.
For a fuller detailed history with pictures do look up Paul Wicks History of British Letter boxes.
Also you may find interesting a visit to the British Postal Heritage Museums at their three venues.
You may purchase authentic Royal Mail Post Boxes at Post Box For Sale
Red Post or Letter Boxes have become an iconic symbol of London's streets and other British cities and towns. As a result there are many London Souvenirs using mini Post Boxes for a wide variety of souvenirs.