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It all started in a Kings Road pub one night in January 1971. The news had just been announced that the Post Office Monopolies Act (1840) had been suspended and Richard Falkiner had the idea of seizing the opportunity to start up his own service, initially with a view to creating a rare, limited edition issue of first day covers. Antique dealer Ben Maurice-Jones, who has just retired from Portobello Road, and Ted Adams, another dealer, man-about-town and the
proprietor of the flower stall at Knightsbridge Station, happened to be in the pub at the time and agreed to join forces with Falkiner in the scheme.

Starting to set out their strategy at 6pm, by 3am the business was organised, complete with rubber stamp to frank the mail (later they had special stamps printed depicting a blue and white dove, letter in mouth, on a white background with the legend “Emergency Post January 1971”). For Falkiner, the main purpose of the venture was to ensure the delivery of auction catalogues around London for Christie’s, for whom he worked at the time, but their activities soon grew.

The trio set about their business immediately, using minicabs. First mail would be collected, with those sending mail paying for stamps as items were picked up. Then the mail would be sorted into districts and dispatched once more in bulk via mini cabs.

Falkiner, Maurice-Jones and Adams anticipated that the strike would last three or four days at most, but in the event it went on for three weeks and they found themselves taking on a short lease at a disused shop in the North End Road to act as a sorting office, enlisting the help of their families, friends from the pub and others in what proved a 24-hour-a-day operation.

Word soon got around and it wasn’t long before they had a queue of minicabs at the door looking for work. At one time they are thought to have had as many as 30 vehicles on the road. The service soon expanded from W1 to cover SW1 and SW3 as well as The City. They even managed to set up an overseas service, collecting together mail for Switzerland and France, applying their own stamps and handing them to colleagues from the antiques world who were travelling to those countries on business with instructions for them to add local stamps and post them once they arrived.

After three weeks, the Post Office Monopolies Act (1840) came back into force and the business closed, but the die had been cast for the modern courier service which has since grown across the capital.