In the 1840s the two leading mail steamship companies of the era, the Peninsular and Oriental (later P & O) and the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, chose Southampton as their principal mail packet station instead of Falmouth. This was largely because the railway, which had reached Southampton in 1840, did not reach Falmouth until years later. The Royal Mail Company had secured the government contract for the West Indian and South American mails, the P & O for the Mediterranean and Indian mails. This early success in attracting these two companies to the port was largely responsible for the initial commercial success of the docks. The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company offices were originally situated near the dock gates on Canute Road, but in c.1907 moved to the building on the corner of Terminus Terrace and Queen's Terrace which had previously been Radley's Hotel. The building, still known as Royal Mail House, is Grade II listed.

Royal Mail Steamship Company

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Royal Mail Offices, Terminus Terrace. Photograph, 1941

Further reading:
Start of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Service, by David Jackson-Smith. (Shipping Lines)
Royal Mail, 1839-1939, by T. A. Bushell. (Shipping Lines)
A Link of Empire, by Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. (Shipping Lines)
Public Life in Southampton, Volume 2, by James Lemon, p24-28. (HS/l)
Public Life in Southampton, Volume 1, by James Lemon, p35-38, 277-286. (HS/l)
History of Southampton Vol 2, by A. Temple Patterson, p13-14, 101-102, 106-107, 110. (HS/h)
History of Southampton Vol 3, by A. Temple Patterson, p1-2, 63-65, 96, 121. (HS/h)


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