Post Office documentary - Under the Clock

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A radio documentary " Under the Clock" about the work and staff of the New Zealand Post Office in 1949. It consists of narration, dramatised segments, field recordings and interviews. [All names of interviewees are spelt as heard.]

Unidentified narrator describes the General Post Office in Featherston Street, Wellington. The process of purchasing a stamp and receiving mail is re-enacted.
The Post Office employs over 16,000 people at almost 2,000 offices.
The network is centred on the grey stone building in Featherston Street.

The Post Office Director-General Mr P.N. Cryer speaks about the varied work of the organisation: mail, telegrams, telephones - and the varied roles of its employees including telephone girls and telegram boys.
New staff are trained at the Post Office training centre, based in the former Trentham military camp.
Audio of tutors delivering a variety of instructions to trainees.

Trentham training centre manager Mr J.T. Jack talks about the 300 trainees who are there at any one time.They come from around the country and live on site for intensive training. Several trainees introduce themselves: Tom Smylie, Invercargill; Jim Leishman, Balclutha; John Keir, Auckland; Noelene Kerr, New Plymouth; Dave Boyce, Masterton; Stanley Abernethy, Dunedin; John Jago, Dunedin.

Mr J.A. West, an engineering instructor at the Trentham training centre talks about the linemen, foremen and overseers who receive training there. There are five weeks of intensive training: lectures and practical exercises, with about 2 acres of land available for fieldwork.

In a model Post Office, a counter-staff trainee is heard being tested on handling a wide variety of enquiries: registering chicken flocks, savings bank accounts for children, marriage licences, transport licences etc.

Audio and description of customers in the Featherston Street Post Office.
The Director-General Mr Cryer gives a brief history of post and telegraph services in New Zealand. Today, it handles 8 million telegrams a year.

In the Wellington telegraph office, overseer Mr H.W.S. Davies describes operations. Morse and machine printing methods are used.
Mr C.N. Hare talks about the overseas radio telegraph services - with the sound of rapid Morse messages coming in from San Francisco in the background.

Mr W. Craig of the cable and wireless section talks about cable messages which are printed on perforated tapes.

The stamp vaults beneath the building are described. They are administered by Mr E. Christoffersen who describes the stamps stored in there, which are valued at approximately 60 million pounds.

At the nearby Stout Street telephone exchange all inter-island telephone calls are handled, as well as calls from 'slot telephones'. Actuality of telephonists answering calls and operators on the New Zealand-Sydney radio telephone link.

Actuality from the mail despatch landing in Featherston Street, where about 900 mail bags a day from all over the country and around the world arrive and are dispatched.
A mail bag to Alexandra is followed to its destination.
At Alexandra Post Office seven people are employed. Post Master Mr R. Scott describes their work.

Director-Genera Mr Cryer talks about the Post Office stores, workshops and garages, which support the organisation behind-the-scenes.
In Wellington's Post Office workshops in Aotea Quay, manager Mr W.B. Burrell talks in the blacksmith's section about the staff of 230 covering 26 different trades in four sectors: motor, mechanical, electrical and woodworking. They manufacture everything from rubber stamps to the body for a motor vehicle.

In the engineering section die shop, foreman Mr J.W. Harper talks about the tools and dies they produce - such as farmer's letter-boxes, telephone switchboard equipment, even a Chrysler windscreen wiper gear.

In the body shop senior overseer Mr W. Younger, describes his 20 staff working on motor vehicle bodies for Post Office vehicles. All iron work is built by their own blacksmiths and timber worked up by their staff also.. during the war they built 700 vehicles for the Army and Airforce, such as trucks and ambulances.

At the Post Office motor workshop in Thorndon, vehicles and equipment are repaired. Foreman Mr R.F. Riddle speaks about his staff of 32 and the mechanical work they do on Post Office vehicles, including engine work and electrical work and diesel engine maintenance.

Back at Aotea Quay, the electrical section is headed by Mr R.E. Hatton. He heads 70 men in 8 different trades, including rubber workers making stamps for use in Post Offices, wirework for telephone exchanges, manufacture of telephones, typewriter maintenance, steel engraving and key cutting.

The School of Electrical Engineering instructor Mr F. Wheater talks about their trainees who come in 8 at a time and what they study. It is said at the end of their training they could theoretically take a ship to sea.

Building overseer for the Wellington district Mr J.A.S. Cowie lists the type of properties his division oversees, including telephone cabinets and post boxes.

The work of Post Office linemen is outlined by overseer of the Melling Line Depot Mr L.J. Martin. He says sacks of hardwood telegraph poles identify lines depots all around the country. His men are likely to be called out at any time of day, in all weather.

At Makara, a community of 40 people maintains and operates the Post Office radio receiving station. The women there follow their husbands into these remote areas. Mrs P. Thompson, wife of a radio engineer, talks about how she enjoys the rural lifestyle.

The narrator sums up the varied and vital work of the Post Office and those employed "Under the Clock."

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Year 1949

Reference number 31939

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Shortwave radio broadcasts
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits RNZ Collection
CRYER, P. N.
JACK, J. T.
WEST, J. A.
DAVIES, H. W. S.
HEAR, C. N.
CRAIG, W.
CHRISTOFFERSEN, E.
BURRELL, W. B.
HARPER, J. W.
Scott, R.
MARTIN, L. J.
THOMPSON, P.
Younger, W.

Duration 00:36:24

Date 1949

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