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A moment in time

A postie’s life was a little different in 1917, when no internet shopping meant a lot less parcels!

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When Charlie Tolman joined Royal Mail in 2017, she had no idea that she was following in her family’s footsteps.

A few months after becoming a postwoman in Wimborne, Charlie visited her grandad and mentioned her new role. When he learned that his granddaughter was working for us, his face lit up.

‘It was really sweet, he got really excited,’ said Charlie. ‘It turns out that my great great grandad, Ernest Cutler, was a postman too!’

In fact, Ernest worked for the business his entire life. He was said to have been extremely proud of his career, which was defined in his eyes by great integrity.

Ernest would cycle out to the Dorset village of Moor Crichel on his round. He met his wife there and the couple went on to have five children, with one becoming a postman at the same delivery office in Wimborne – also named Ernest.

‘When grandad showed me a picture of Ernie on his round, we knew we had to recreate it,’ said Charlie. ‘We think the original was taken around 1917, but we aren’t entirely sure; we can only trace it back based on the billboard.’

Comparing the two photographs (which you can see in this month’s Courier) makes for a great game of spot the difference.

‘I think the uniform is probably the most obvious difference, at least visually,’ said Charlie. ‘I suspect though, that our role descriptions would differ quite a bit.

‘For one, there was no internet shopping back then, so definitely fewer parcels!’