Ascension Island Post Office & Philatelic Bureau
Ascension Island was known as the Sailor's Post Office as
early as the seventeenth century. Ships passing Ascension would call at
the island and leave letters for others going in the right direction to
deliver. The eastern head of the Island is called Letterbox, although
no trace of the spot used to deposit letters remains today.
Philatelically Ascension's history starts on 3rd March 1867,
when the UK Postmaster General sent a supply of stamps to the Island for
the Island's postmaster, H.A. Haswell, to sell. Since 1863, the Union
Castle Steamship Company had been calling at Ascension to deliver and
collect mail. With the withdrawal of the Royal Navy in 1922, new arrangements
had to be made.
To celebrate the conversion of Ascension to a dependency of St Helena,
sets of St Helena stamps overprinted with Ascension were produced. At
once the Island's Post office was inundated with requests for stamps from
all over the world. On 20th August 1924, the first sets of
Ascension definitive stamps were produced, and demand increased. The postal
staff, in those distant days, was normally one or two wives of the UK
staff of the Eastern Telegraph Company, the forerunner of Cable and Wireless.
This arrangement continued for many years.
In 1966, with the
expansion of Ascension due to the arrival of Ministry of Public Building
and Works staff, BBC staff and contractors, Ascension's Administration
was put onto a more formal footing with the arrival of an Administrator,
and Post Office staff from St Helena. From this time, the Post Office
has been run by seconded staff who do nominal two-year tours.
Today the Post Office has a staff of three, the Postmistress, a Postal
Clerk and a Philatelic Clerk. Stamp designs are agreed by the Philatelic
Committee, which consists of members of the public, and is chaired by
We aim to issue five sets of stamps per year, although this policy is
flexible to incorporate special and commemorative issues. A "definitive"
set is released every five years, and remains on sale until it
is replaced, whereas the special and commemorative issues are withdrawn
from sale fifteen months after their release date. Stamps from St Helena
can also be obtained in mint condition, but First Day Covers are fully
serviced. The Post Office operates within the strict regulations of the
International Postal Union; for example all first day covers are actually
cancelled in the Ascension Post Office, situated in the heart of Georgetown.
Ascension has up to 400 Standing Order Customers receiving our new issues.
We are always ready to welcome others however, and give them our individual
There is no national postal service within Ascension Island, houses have
numbers, but few of the roads have names! All postal addresses here, are
those of employing organisations. Organisational representatives collect
the mail from the Post Office, but internal deliveries between
organisations are to separate boxes, one for each organisation, outside
the Administrator's office. As most people within the small communities
know each other, mail within Ascension other, than business mail, is very
Ascension Island Postmistress with the Post
Airmail is received and dispatched twice a week via the RAF Tristar aircraft
that flies between the UK and the Falkland Islands. Surface Mail and parcels
arrive every month from the UK on the MOD chartered Shipping Service,
also en route to the Falklands. Surface Mail to and from Capetown and
St Helena, and Surface Mail to the UK travels on the Royal Mail Ship,
RMS St Helena as it plies its way through the blue waters of the Atlantic
Ocean between Capetown, St Helena, Ascension, and the UK.