For the first time ever – 40 years ago today – the Island gained postal independence from the UK and the organisation now known as ‘Jersey Post’ was formed.
Prior to the big day itself, almost two years were spent planning the move and two sets of commemorative stamps were produced.
The opportunity for the Island to become an independent postal authority first came about when the General Post Office decided to become a public corporation. As a result, Jersey and Guernsey were given the option to go it alone – although they were told they had to both reach the same agreement. Both islands took the decision to become postally independent on 23 January 1968.
Islanders were then asked to come up with designs for the first set of stamps, because UK postage stamps would cease to be valid in the Crown Dependencies after they went it alone. 70 people sent in their ideas and an artist was commissioned to put them onto paper.
Over the following year Jersey officials visited various UK security printers to learn about the art of stamp printing. They also visited the newly established Maltese Philatelic Bureau to see how they operated.
The designs chosen for Jersey’s inaugural set of postage stamps included Elizabeth Castle, La Hougue Bie, Portelet, Corbière, Mont Orgueil, the Arms and Royal Mace, a chart of the English Channel and a Jersey cow. Meanwhile, the Queen agreed to sit for a photograph by Mr (later to become Sir) Cecil Beaton to be used on the £1 value stamp.
In September 1968 Frank W Guénier was appointed as the first director and head postmaster for a period of five years, and in May 1969 Samuel Thomas was made deputy director and controller of accounts and philately.
Following this, the States of Jersey Committee for Postal Administration was then formed. The seven-man committee was formed to control the postal services in the Island, under the presidency of Senator Wilfred Krichefski. Deputy Bob Smale was appointed vice-president and the other committee members were Senators Stephan Venables, Cyril Le Marquand and Philip Romeril, with Deputies Philip de Veulle and John Ellis. This committee met monthly, with sub-committees meeting more regularly.
It was decided that a commemorative stamp issue should be produced to mark the Island’s postal independence, to be released at the same time as the definitive issue. The Post Office offered budding artists the chance to design this set of stamps and announced the competition in the pages of the JEP. The winner was Mr R G Sellar. As October 1969 drew nearer, almost £100,000 had been received in advance orders for stamps.
On 14 August 1969 Senator Krichefski announced to the States Assembly that an agreement had been reached that from 1 October that year the Sovereign and Parliament would relinquish their rights on the monopoly of the postal services.
When 1 October arrived, hundreds of people queued at all of the Island’s post offices to buy Jersey’s first ever stamps, some having flown over especially to post their first day covers from the Island personally.
Meanwhile, the announcement that Jersey had obtained postal independence was made on that day at a press conference at the Café Royal in London. Hosted by the Jersey Post Office, this was attended by members of the worldwide postal community.nextpage