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Within our collections showcase we feature some of the main digitised collections. At an individual record level these documents are available to view and download as a PDF.


Post Office engineering research reports and the reports of the research section of the National Telephone Company

The research section of the Post Office was initially part of the Engineering Department. After the inland telegraph network was acquired by the Post Office in 1870, engineers became involved in technical experiments. However, it wasn’t until 1904 that staff were specifically allocated to research and provided with accommodation for such purposes. Initially experiments were conducted in the GPO (West) building, which was later known as the Central Telegraph Office (CTO).


In 1912, when the Post Office took over the National Telephone Company, a research branch was established as part of the Engineering Department, reporting to the Engineer-in-Chief. In 1914 land purchased at Dollis Hill, north London, provided the site for a new Post Office laboratory. Due to funding problems and the disruption of the First World War, research workers were not established at Dollis Hill until 1921, and were housed in wooden huts until the opening of a permanent block of buildings in 1933. Above the door was enscribed "Research is the door to tomorrow" (Post Office Magazine, c1934).

  • View 1904 – 1919 collection
  • View 1910 – 1969 collection

Telecommunications headquarters research department reports, 1968 - 1981

In 1968, as part of the reorganization of the Post Office, the Research section ceased to be part of the Engineering Department and was established as the Research Department within the newly created Telecommunications Headquarters function. At the same time, a handful of staff transferred from the old research section at Dollis Hill to new laboratories at Martlesham Heath near Ipswich, Dollis Hill was finally closed in 1975 when the new Research Centre at Martlesham was officially opened. The Research Department remained within the Telecommunications side of the Post Office, reporting to the Senior Director of Development, and was transferred to British Telecom when the Post Office Corporation was divided in 1981.


With the establishment of the new Research Department in 1968, a new series of Research Reports was set up.

Post 30 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (England and Wales)

The system of "minuting" papers submitted to the Postmaster General by the Secretary to the Post Office for a decision (ie numbering them and separately copying the minute into volumes indexed by subject) was introduced in 1793. Post 30 is a list of those papers that survived the various reviewing processes over the years.

Post 31 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (Ireland)

This sequence comprises "minuted" papers relating to Ireland for the period 1841 to 1960. "Minuted" papers were those papers which had been submitted to the Postmaster General for a decision, and then been retained in the Post Office registry.

Post 32 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (Scotland)

This sequence comprises "minuted" papers relating to Post Office services in Scotland, although a proportion developed into cases of general interest. "Minuted" papers were those papers which had been submitted to the Postmaster General for a decision, and then been retained in the Post Office registry.

Post 33 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (General)

Until 1921, several different major minute series were in use with telecommunications and postal issues within the same filing system for England and Wales (POST 30), Ireland (POST 31) and Scotland (POST 32).


In 1921, the several different minute series were replaced by a single all-embracing series (POST 33). In 1955 the registration of Headquarters files began to be decentralised under several local registries serving particular departments, although the "minuting" of cases considered worthy of preservation, and the assimilation of later cases with earlier existing minuted bundles, continued until 1973.

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