Newhaven Postwomen


This photograph is of the First World War postwomen at Newhaven. In the top row, second from the left, is Alice Simmons.  On the far right is Harriett Browning, who was the first postwoman in Newhaven during the war.

During the First World War, the volume of post increased dramatically. That, combined with almost a quarter of pre-war postal staff joining up, meant there was a need for more workers. In the first two years of the war, 35,000 women joined the post office, on a temporary basis, to fill the gap. The Marriage Bar, which required postwomen to resign when they married, was lifted for the duration of the war.  It was during the war that a uniform for postwomen was first introduced, comprising a blue skirt, coat and blue straw hat.

Women worked sorting and delivering the mail, whilst the Telegraph Girls delivered telegrams.  At Newhaven, this job was undertaken by Grace Chrismas, who lived with her parents and younger brothers and sister at 33 Railway Road.  She was 12 when the war began and started the job on leaving school.

By Jenny Flood, with the photograph and stories of local people contributed to Newhaven Museum by their relatives.