I'm old enough to remember when bicycle-riding "posties" blew their whistle when delivering mail. However, I'm not able to remember when the postman rode a horse on his rounds.
This was the case when Tamworth employed its first "letter-carrier" 58-y-o James Johnston back in 1870.
Originally he tried to cover his wide delivery area on foot, but eventually was granted two shillings per day forage allowance for two horses, and later acquired an assistant.
Things have changed, because back then there were TWO mail deliveries per day!
Dressed in a bright red coat, this was a far cry from today's fluoro army of "iron-horse" posties.
James was a "jack-of-all-trades" before taking up letter deliveries, having been a carpenter, lock-up keeper in Tamworth's first gaol, chief constable, shoe repairer and an auctioneer.
The first mail brought into Tamworth from outside was by the Australian Agricultural Company horseback couriers, bringing letters from their Port Stephens headquarters to their Peel's River settlement in the mid 1830's.
Covering long distances was a slow process, instanced in the first mail carried in relay from Brisbane to Sydney taking 39 days, so don't describe today's service as "snail-mail"! Bushranger interception in those days was also a problem.
Our first public "letter-receiver" (letterbox) was located in 1870 outside the Woolpack Inn in Bridge Street (then named Peel Street), which 30 years later became the original West Tamworth Post Office, wher KFC is now located.
Others followed at the corners of Peel-Jewry (1873), East/Marius (1876), Bridge/Belmore (1879) and Peel/Darling (1884).
Thomas Byrnes was our first Postmaster for only 5 months in 1840, selling his store/hotel/post office business, opposite today's Maguires Hotel, to Phillip Scholfield, then onsold to Carden Williams.
Williams went broke, owing money to David Cohen who then, with Lewis Levy, took over the business in 1846 as the first of three Cohen & Levy store sites.
Williams managed to hold his Postmaster licence, setting up a primitive "blanket-tent" post-office in Ebsworth Street.
Later Louis Levy (brother of Lewis) became Tamworth Postmaster, followed in 1861 by Abraham Cohen, both operating out of the Cohen & Levy store.
The following year George Denshire became our first full-time Postmaster, originally located where the Target store is today, before presiding over our first stand-alone Post Office & Telegraph building in Fitzroy Street on part of the block where today's Tamworth Post Office was later opened (1886), minus its clock for the first 5 weeks.
With Tamworth in 1865 only processing 736 letters per week, compared to Armidale's 1788, James Johnston had to wait another 5 years to make our first home mail deliveries.
In 1876 letters cost one penny to post, and 50 years later only one and a half pennies, a 50 per cent rise.
By comparison, in 1976 a letter cost 7c to post and 43 years later in 2019 cost $1 - a rise of over 1300per cent!
Maybe the motor-bike fuel of today's posties is costing a lot more than the feed for James Johnston's horses!