Sri Lanka Posts has been in existence for more than 209 years and employs more than 17,000 employees in various positions. We are one of the oldest Government departments in existence today. We are proud of our history and heritage.
Sri Lanka Posts has a long history of 209 years, dating back to 1798 when the Colonial Dutch rulers started five post offices in the Maritime Districts that were under their control and in 1799 they published of first ever postal regulations and postage rates. The “East-India Company” operated the Postal service the Dutch started and was not meant for the public but for official use. There is not much material to say anything more of the period 1798 to 1815.
In 1815, the British took control of the country. They re-organized the postal service and a permanent Post Office was established in Colombo in 1882. The first Post Master General of Ceylon was Mr. A. Kennedy an Air Army Officer. However as far back as 1815 there has been Post Master Generals’; Mr. E. Bletterman was the PMG for the whole island. Thereafter in 1817 Mr. Lewis Sansoni succeeded Mr. Bletterman as the second Postmaster General. The third Postmaster General was Major. G. Stewart and during his period he was instrumental in extending the postal services to major towns in the country. Ceylon Post and Telecommunications Department as it was known then has many a first to its credit.
We were the first to inaugurate a mail coach service in Asia; between Colombo and Kandy the service began operations in 1832 and in 1838 another mail coach service was started between Galle and Colombo.
The year 1892 saw the first “Travelling Post Office” doing its run between Colombo and Peradeniya a subarban of Kandy. Over the years different modes of transport has been used for the transportation and delivery of mail.
“Bedford” vans made in England were used even during the 70′s. Today we boast of a modern fleet of Japanese vehicles. Delivery of post in a bygone era was first by foot (in the hills and remote places it is not uncommon to see postman delivering letters by foot even today!), then bicycles were added. During the 50′s and 60′s postmen on British made BSA – Bantam motor cycles were a familiar sight. With the postman’s beat becoming smaller in cities the motor cycles gave way to the bicycles. Transportation of mails is done by railway, public and private omni-buses and our own fleet of vehicles.
Ceylon joined the Universal Postal Union on 1st April 1877 and again on 13th July, 1949 after independence joined the Universal Postal Union and created a world first.
On the 1st April, 1857 the first stamp was issued in penny denominations, five years after Britain introduced the postage stamp to the world. The first stamps to be issued in local denomination of rupees and cents was on 1st February, 1892.
The General Post Office which was housed in different places in Colombo. In 1895 acquired its own building opposite the Governor General’s residence – the King’s House, on King’s Street (currently the Janadhipath Mawatha). With the disturbances in the country the GPO was moved out of the building and finally has got its permanent place at the present new Postal Headquarters. The new building is the center of operations and administration consisting of 9 floors of modern facilities. The Postal Museum too is housed in this building which will be opened to the public in the near future.