RARE survivals from 200 years of sending the mail featured at the annual meeting of the Cumbrian Postal History Society.

The group, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, held its all-long meeting with displays of county-related letters, postcards and postmarks at the Kendal United Reformed Church hall off Highgate.

In the days before the introduction of adhesive stamps in 1840 for Britain’s pioneering penny post, the price of sending mail was based on how many miles it travelled.

On display at Kendal was a single sheet ready calculator from the early years of Victoria ’s reign showing, for example, that Ravenglass to London was 280 miles and that Ulverston to Carlisle was 60 miles – via Windermere, Hartsop and Patterdale.

It may surprise you that this old – and hilly – route is about 15 miles shorter than taking the M6.

The winner of the society’s annual competition was Cockermouth’s Mike Mapleton with a display based on “Incoming Mail” – to Cumbria from all over the world.

This included a postcard sent from Liverpool to Seascale in November 1903 which redirected to Cleator.

At this time Seascale applied its own handstamp to letters and postcards and even had a special village code in an oval – 252.

Another of his examples had travelled much further – from South East Asia to the wartime RAF Cark airfield, near Flookburgh.

It had official marks showing that it had been passed by censors before arriving at the RAF training base in May 1944.

Other items of incoming post included a letter from British Colombia, via Okangan Lake and Montreal in 1905 and letters to the county from Rangoon in Burma , The Gambia and Egypt.

Material displayed by Ambleside’s Simon Kelly showed the post office at Kents Bank, near Grange, as it looked in Edwardian times.

The Bulmers trade directory for 1910 showed that Miss Isobel Sarginson was postmistress and ran the business and a general store with her sister.

Kents Bank was an important place for posting mail as it was where the coach road from Hest Bank crossed the Morecambe Bay sands heading for Cartmel.

An article on display from The Mail, of May 7 in 1983 recorded staff changes as village sub-post offices in Allithwaite, Kents Bank and Cark.

Ron and Joyce Shury retired from the post office and newsagency at Allithwaite after 17 years.

The article noted: “Running the shop was no easy business with a 5am start to the day, six days a week.”

At Kents Bank, Martin and Patricia Scott were selling up after seven years and moving to Carlisle .

Mr Scott told The Mail: “It’s hard work running a business.

“It’s very physically demanding, so we decided to go for a quiet life.”

Life at a village post office did have its lighter moments.

He said: “A lady came in to the shop one day and asked for help in choosing a birthday card for someone she didn’t like.”

At Cark, May Taylor decided to retire, aged 71, after 32 years at the post office.

She said: “They are all moaning because I am going but when you start to get tired at the end of the day, it’s time to go.”