50th Anniversary Exhibition at the Manx Museum

50th Anniversary Exhibition at the Manx Museum

We have partnered with Manx National Heritage, who kindly offered their ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ to house a brand new collection that captures our journey through the past 50 years.
Below you have the opporutinity to read up on all text provided throughout the exhibition.
The exhibition will be at the Manx Museum starting from 14th July up until 24th September.

Our Story

The Island’s postal service was granted postal independence from the British Post Office on 5th July 1973 and founded as the Isle of Man Postal Authority.

Its first Chairman was Victor Kneale MHK who had made it his personal business to fight for the establishment of a Manx Post Office. The first Isle of Man stamps formed a set of 16 designs commissioned from distinguished Manx artist, John Nicholson and were printed by Courvoisier of Switzerland. A special inaugural stamp featuring a Viking landing on Man in AD938 was envisaged to have a total issue of 250,000, but enormous advance interest caused this to be increased to 350,000. When the inaugural and definitive stamps went on sale at the Head Post Office in Douglas on 5th July, a mile-long queue of people waited to buy them, with dealers waiting outside to try to persuade them to sell their purchases.

In the first ten months, the Philatelic Bureau had acquired 15,910 regular subscription accounts, 620 of them from dealers. At the end of the Authority’s first financial year in March 1974, normal postal services had broken even while philatelic profits rose spectacularly to £719,100 – enough to meet all the Authority’s operational expenditures, its capital liabilities and yield a surplus for the Manx Treasury. Also during the first year, 7,181,365 letters were posted on the Island.

In the early years, Post Office Headquarters was located at Regent Street, Douglas with a sorting office in Circular Road, Douglas. Traditionally, staff were appointed as telegram boys and moved on to postal operations or counter duties. Over the years there were many changes in location: firstly, in the early 1980s, a purpose-built headquarters near the Sorting Office on Circular Road. During the 1990s the Sorting Office moved to Spring Valley and in October 1999 - as a result of the growing complexity of postal business - postal operations, administration and the philatelic bureau also moved from Circular Road.

Although in existence since 1973, it was the Post Office Act 1993 (the Act) that created the independent Statutory Board and renamed it Isle of Man Post Office (IOMPO) and defined its powers and obligations, which are still in place today. The Act gave IOMPO the monopoly to convey letters throughout the Island and a financial duty to make a profit.

Today the Post Office Board consists of a political Chairman and Vice-Chairman appointed by Tynwald members, together with three lay members that serve a five-year term and they share collective corporate responsibility for the decisions of the Board.

The postal world as we know it now is very different from how it was 50 years ago. For some considerable time, postal businesses around the world have faced significant changes, most notably due to advances in technology, and IOMPO is no exception. Letter volumes have halved in the last 10 years and, while the business has seen a steady and healthy growth in parcels, the parcels market is hugely competitive and the threat of the gig economy provides further challenges. In 2001 we introduced our first letter sortation machine and, in the autumn of 2022, implemented our very first parcel automation machine, evidencing a key shift from being a letter-dominated business to a parcels one.

In 2006, Tynwald recognised digital developments were changing customer needs and enabled IOMPO to ‘pursue diversification and development of new commercial opportunities in order to remain economically and commercially viable, and thus enable it to continue to support its public service obligation, i.e. the postal service.’ Since then we have moved from not only offering traditional paper-based communication services, but also to providing a wide selection of digital communication services through its Business Solutions division, serving our valued commercial clients on the Isle of Man, the UK and internationally. In addition, we partner with a network of retailers who host counter services on behalf of IOM PO and its commercial customers, and we operate a worldrenowned Stamps and Coins department. 

In December 2018, Tynwald approved IOMPO’s fiveyear strategic business case which set out the ways in which it could continue to be self-funding as defined within the financial duties in the Post Office Act 1993 by protecting the core business; by being efficient and effective; by growing profitably and by diversifying selectively. Support was received for moving letter deliveries to five days a week instead of six. This was implemented in 2019 and generated significant savings and efficiencies to reflect the supply and demand nature of the postal business.

In the same year, Tynwald approved the retail modernisation strategy, recognising the rapid decline in the number of transactions made at local sub post offices, with fewer customers choosing to use facetoface services in favour of digital offerings online or by phone. During the pandemic, the trusted post office team and its retail partners came to the fore; as proud key workers we demonstrated our important role as a key part of the Island’s critical infrastructure, delivering our resilient services throughout.

In recent years, the business has introduced a number of parcel pick-up collection points, rolledout self-administered postage for regular commercial customers and plans to expand this to residential customers this year, further improving access and convenience to services along with introducing parcel collection boxes. In addition, Post-lite, a forthcoming light footprint counter solution using a handheld device is planned and there are ambitions for a residential doorstop collection service to further improve the services offered.

Throughout the past 50 years, Isle of Man Stamps & Coins has played a crucial role in promoting the Island across the world, with more than 2,600 commemorative stamps issued, in addition to reissued definitive sets with themes and subjects drawn from around the world as well as locally. Isle of Man stamps have educated and inspired collectors worldwide in a style that is unique and refreshing. 

The Isle of Man Post Office’s 305 staff are at the heart of its identity and its greatest asset. The business is proud to have some of the longest-serving employees on the Island with each and every one playing an important role in the business and in the economic, social and cultural success of the Island’s nation.

Reflecting on the anniversary and the future, Simon Kneen, Chief Executive of Isle of Man Post Office says: “As we look forward, it is undeniable that the postal industry will continue to evolve at a rapid pace. We remain committed to delivering our strategy to transform the business for our future financial sustainability, making strides in our bid to become a greener organisation and continuing to meet the changing needs of our valued customers far beyond 2023.”

The Slide Show

With the help of staff members past and present we have collected thousands of images in preparation for this exhibition.
We are so grateful for all the contributions we have received. Unfortunately we were never going to be able to display all of the images collected but with the support of staff members Martin ‘Sonic’ Sayle and Charlotte Ramsay we have created this slide show to cover some of the images that did not make it into the frames.

Independence Day: 5th July 1973

The Postman

The roadway’s level with the hedge,
Filled with last nights snow,
The east winds fit to freeze you blood,
And you’ve eight long miles to go.

The postman on the Michael round
Turned back at Druidale’s gate,
Put down your bag NORMAN BARRON,
The mail can surely wait.
Oh what you say is true enough,
No doubt I’m just a fool,
They never handed me the prize
For the smartest boy in school.

But I’ve walked this round for 30 years,
And I never like to miss,
Who knows what letters should reach
What urgent calls in this.

I’d like to boast when pensions come
Of work done without fail,
So, in the snowstorm, here I start out
With her Majesty’s mail.

Level indeed were roads and hedges,
The drifts were six feet deep,
And where man used to lash the horse,
Man could hardly creep.

It took an hour to walk a mile,
To stumble, slip or cycle.
No dogcart gave a lift that day
To the postman bound for Michael.

Never so heavy felt the sack,
Never so cold the feet,
The cramping east wind drained the blood
Of all its natural heat.

But a cottage here a farmer there
As letters came their way,
It’s a braw and bitter day.

Sit you down and take some broth
Says auld Mistress Quayle,
So his belly full, the warmth returned,
He set out in the gale.

When MANX men say a thing shall come,
He never ever fails,
They keep their promises, do the task
And deliver all the mail.

This poem was written for John Norman Barron, for his 100th birthday. He lived to 102. He served 34 years of his life as a postman and retired in 1974.

John Hobson Nicholson (1911 - 1988) Manx Stamp and Currency Designer

Tynwald Day 2003

Stamps Celebrities

Thank You to Our Loyal Collectors

Sub Post Offices of the Past

Mike Kelly, Maxine Cannon, Hector Duff MM BEM OBE TH and Major Charles Wilson with our WW1 and WW2 memorials.

For more details on the Archibald Knox Forum and 'The Knox Trial' click here

Post box at ferry terminal decorated to mark the Isle of Pride and celebrate the Island's LGBTQ+ community

We Deliver Almost Everywhere

Postboxes Old and New

Circular Road HQ

Happy Colleagues in Uniform

The Longest Serving Postman: Peter Hudson worked for 61 years, from September 1953 (telegram boy) to Christmas 2014 (postman)

Active for Charity and Fun

Douglas Sorting Office, Circular Road

Isle of Man Post Office Celebrating 50 Years 1973 - 2023

Isle of Man Post Office is delighted to present a set of seven stamps in celebration of our fiftieth anniversary on 5th July 2020

Maxine Cannon, Stamps & Coins General Manager writes...

I have had the pleasure and honour of working in the Philatelic Bureau, and more recently Isle of Man Stamps & Coins, since 1st June 1981. Alongside colleagues past and present from all areas of the Post Office, we have worked together as a team to make our postage stamps come to fruition - to be used and enjoyed by many around the world.

This issue is a snapshot of the stamp albums so many collectors cherish and enjoy. In bringing this collection together I would like to thank all those who have contributed past and present, and to our collectors and enthusiasts worldwide, I would like to say thank you.

On behalf of Isle of Man Post Office, we are all looking forward to the joy future postage stamp issues will bring us all.


Richard West MBE writes…

Memories are made of stamps: for Maxine Cannon, General Manager Stamps and Coins, 40 years with the Isle of Man Post Office has brought a wealth of stamps and a mountain of memories. She shares some of those thoughts and memories, many evoked by the stamps reproduced on this set of six that marks the 50th anniversary of Isle of Man Post Office.

Where better to start than with the 15p ‘Inauguration’ stamp of 1973? The striking design showing a Viking landing on Mann, epitomising the strength and determination of the Manx people, attributes that have motivated Maxine over the 40 years. Some stamp issues need special licences – and great determination to see the project to fruition.

To mark the 1,000th anniversary of Tynwald in 1979, Odin’s Raven, a two-thirds scale replica of a 9th century Viking ship, sailed from Trondheim in Norway, arriving at Peel, Isle of Man, on 5th July, Tynwald Day. There was great excitement when the boat landed, demonstrating the strong bonds with the people of Norway. Covers were carried on board but quickly sold out: sadly Maxine missed out.

Many buildings in Douglas are beautiful, such as the Gaiety Theatre and Villa Marina highlighted on four stamps in 1987.

The 1994 definitives had the theme of ships, one being the Royal Yacht Britannia, when the yacht visited Douglas with the now King Charles III on board. It was an honour for Maxine to present the stamps to the ship’s company.
The new millennium provided the opportunity for something different: a miniature sheet issued on 31st December 1999, and cancelled 23.59, 00.00 and 00.01. A party that night at the Regent Street Post Office in Douglas included a buffet, Bee Gees music, and postmen cancelling covers.

Some of those who fought in the First World War for our freedom featured on a set in 2000 titled Mann at War. It is through such stamps that future generations can learn of their bravery. One of those was George Kneale: a shrine at the family home includes a letter he wrote, much more poignant than an email or text will ever be.

Michael Noakes, artist and portrait painter, spent much of 1999 with HM Queen Elizabeth II, making sketches, paintings and drawings of her daily life. A selection was used on stamps for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. Noakes was a real character who Maxine visited at Buckingham Palace to view an album of his portraits.

The television programme Time to Remember inspired the set issued in 2005 for which Islanders were invited to a tea party, bringing memorabilia and sharing memories. However, one Islander with a wealth of memories, Hilary Guard, preferred not to come along. Then, to everyone’s surprise, attended the launch of the stamps, the first time he had taken part in anything for years.

Anniversaries of the first manned Moon landing in 1969 resulted in meeting with Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the Moon and one of the nicest people you could meet. Particularly exciting was to be able to launch the 2019 stamps at the Space Center Houston.

Nigel Parkinson, cartoonist for D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd, specially created a comic strip for A Beano Christmas set in 2018. The unique original artwork, telling of Dennis’s visit to the Island, adorns a wall in Maxine’s office.

However, it is that set from 2020, Carry Us Through, that carries the most powerful message: ‘Words will carry us through’. For Maxine letter writing is still key, giving great pleasure to both sender and receiver. Stamps can bring people closer together - that’s why Maxine and the team takes great pride and care in how the world sees the Isle of Man through stamps.

Post Office Vehicles from Cart to Electric Fleet

Post Office Headquarters New Building

Last Christmas at Circular Road 1993

Our New American Parcel Sorting Machine

Our Mosaic Rescued by Stewart Clague Services and Restored by Chris Weeks

Dennis & Gnasher in A Beano Christmas on the Isle of Man Comic Strip

King Charles Coronation Gift Delivery:

Grenaby to London, from Graham Hall to postman Paul Timpson and colleagues via Loganair to Buckingham Palace

Worth the Walk to Bride

Michael Starkey: Making special deliveries in Ramsey for 32 years

Dogs Love Postmen in Laxey

Thank You

Putting together an exhibition like this requires a lot of team work by friends and staff members past and present.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the collection of images and artefacts for this exhibition but in particular:
Sally Adams, Chris Allen, Kevin Atherton and family, Maxine Cannon, Phil ‘Nipper’ Cain, Juan Christian, Mary Cousins, Gordon Davies, Andrew Doherty, John Gold, Carl Hadfield, Ivor Hankinson, Paul Henry, Peter Hudson, Elizabeth Humphreys, Frank James, Kerry Kemp and the members of the IOM Philatelic Federation, Michelle Kenny, Nancy Doreen Kinley & Valerie Kinley, Louise Kneen, Robert ‘Bobby’ Moore, Pauline Murray, Andy Perry, Sharon Radcliffe, Rev Archie Robertson & John Robertson, Martin ‘Sonic’ Sayle, Mike Southall MBE, Jackie Thompson and Lucy Webster Thompson.

Our special thanks go to Paul Ford of our Stamps & Coins department who worked in partnership with Emma Cooke of EJC Design and the fabulous team at Manx National Heritage to produce this exhibition.

We also would like to thank the IOMPO Executive Team Simon Kneen, Lisa Duckworth Martin Kneale for their support and guidance.
Thanks too to Words & Spaces and Signrite.
We hope you enjoy this journey through the past 50 years of postal independence!
The Anniversary Committee

Every effort has been made to trace or contact all copyright holders. The Isle of Man Post Office will be pleased to make good any omissions or rectify any mistakes brought to their attention at the earliest opportunity.


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