Ankh-Morpork Post Office

From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Located on Widdershins Broadway, opposite the Patrician's Palace, occupying the whole of the block delineated by Hill Street and God Street. They operate the Ankh-Morpork Postal System, under the current Postmaster General Moist von Lipwig.



Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch once called the Post Office the Royal Mail, for this government office is derived from offices that were in existence back in the time of the kings of Ankh. Like many other divisions of the city government (ex. the Watch and the Royal Mint), the Post Office has been a little-used, neglected, inefficient office for many decades. The history of the Post Office is sketched out largely through explanatory footnotes and sidebar comments in the Ankh-Morpork Post Office Handbook 2007.

For the Watch, the dwindling had been due to the legalization of the Guilds by the Patrician, Lord Havelock Vetinari; the Guilds essentially took over most Watch duties and the Watch became unnecessary. For the Post Office things were different. Many decades ago, the Post Office was a proud institution, where the Postmaster General, Chief Postal Inspector, and everybody working there wanted to provide good service to the citizens. The place bustled with customers and employees. There were branch offices throughout different areas of the city. One day, disaster struck, or rather, was acquired by Postmaster General Cowerby. He was a man for efficiency, so he acquired a Mail-Sorting Engine; it had been designed by Bergholt Stuttley Johnson who originally intended it to be an organ (musical instrument). The wrong-ness of the Engine went beyond serving a different purpose than originally intended. By some amazing stupidity, Johnson managed to make the Engine tap through many layers of the space-time continuum, and the Engine spewed out mail that the postal workers didn't put into it. There were letters from the future, mail from alternate universes, and notes that people swore they had written and posted but had never, really. For a while, Postmaster Cowerby entertained that this enabled the Post Office to deliver mail before it was posted, only that wouldn't be very polite, so they would hold the mail, and then once it was posted, they would go out and deliver it. However, the mail from the Engine overwhelmed the working capacity of the postal workers. One day, Chief Postal Inspector Rumbelow beat up the Engine until it stopped spewing mail, but there were already mountains of letters filling every room, every corridor in the five-story building of the main Post Office. Things went downhill after that. The Post Office was closed in all but name. All furniture had been stolen. The pay to the employees stopped arriving from the Patrician's Palace. Feral pigeons colonized the Post Office building. Postmen retired. Enthusiastic citizens put graffiti on the walls. There were no more customers.


When mountains of undelivered mail were gathered in one place, all the unread words strove to be read. The words reached out into any mind available in the vicinity, writing themselves across one's inner vision and whispering to one. The letters also created illusions of the good old days – the counters, the chandeliers, the upstairs balconies, the staff, the customers, the postmen, the bustle; the lights, the noises, everything. The Post Office came to be considered as haunted. A few months before its revival, there were only two men on the staff: Mr. Tolliver Groat (Junior Postman) and a young man named Stanley (Apprentice Postman). There was no pay, and Mr. Groat scraped together what he could, even renting out the pigeon loft on the roof, to feed himself and the apprentice. There were no postal pigeons, although there were many feral pigeons colonizing the building. On the other hand, the mail coaches, which had always taken paying passengers on the international mail runs, had continued to prosper as a coach service, run by former coachmen and now separate from the Post Office administration.

One day, the Patrician, Lord Havelock Vetinari, decided that he wanted the Post Office back in business. One after another new Postmasters were assigned, and one by one they died of accidents. The manners of the deaths were such that the Watch had been called in, but no traces of a murderer had been found. It could be that the very old junior postman despised the new postmasters who had not a drop of Post Office ink in their blood, and killed them. It could be that the shady lodgers in the pigeon loft killed the new postmasters, who had been sniffing around and perhaps discovered their secret businesses. In fact, the new postmasters had died of hallucination while they explored the building, for example, stepping on what was a floor decades ago but was now a stairwell. Four new Postmasters died in five weeks, and one of these new postmasters may well have been a fully trained Assassin in whom Lord Vetinari had confidence. If even an Assassin couldn't deal with the secrets of the Post Office, who could live long enough to bring it back to life?

Four men dead in five weeks

  • Mr Mutable - Described as a decent chap, fell to his death into the big hall from the fifth floor.
  • Mr Sideburn - Fell down the back stairs and broke his neck at 3 o'clock in the morning.
  • Mr Ignavia - Found dead as a doornail, his face all contorted like he'd seen a ghost. The Watch & their werewolf were forced to conclude it was death by natural causes, and that no one had been near the body.
  • Mr Whobblebury - A Dark Clerk in the service of the Patrician, he was always snooping around. He found and closely inspected the Mail Sorting Engine just before his death. The post office staff were first alerted to this when the cat, Mr Tiddles, came in carrying a bit of him. In the words of Stanley; "His head was all over the wall!!".

Lord Vetinari then installed Moist von Lipwig, a convicted and to all appearances executed fraudster, as the next new Postmaster. With a good insight in business, and nowhere to run, Mr. Lipwig decided to start by cleaning the building and delivering the mail while he slowly tried to entice the secrets out of old Junior Postman Groat. By effort and careful design, Mr. Lipwig earned the trust and allegiance of old retired postmen who had gathered to give him a harsh initiation into a secret society of postmen. Retired pensioners who volunteered when the Post Office first started getting back on its feet included:

  • George Aggy, senior postman
  • Bates, senior postman
  • Bill Thompson, senior postman
  • Jimmy Tropes

New Growth

Mr. Lipwig also had the services of Mr. Groat, young Stanley, Miss Maccalariat (a now elderly granddaughter of a formerly famous counter staff), and a golem named Mr. Pump, a.k.a. Pump 19. The golem was assigned by Lord Vetinari as Mr. Lipwig's parole officer, to watch that he did not run away, but Mr. Pump did save Mr. Lipwig from a few accidents. Mr. Lipwig also hired more golems, as they were wont to work ceaselessly, and were immune to things that had injured countless postmen down the ages: toys and dog crap on the sidewalk, dog bites, and mail slots with sharp edges, set low in the doors. And then, Mr. Lipwig successfully negotiated with the coachmen and had them resume the old mode of mail coaches, that was, to take mail as well as paying passengers.

Mr. Lipwig also invented the postage stamps, little pieces of paper with pictures; a customer could purchase them from the Post Office, and when stuck on an envelope, the little piece of paper promised that the Post Office would deliver the envelope. Interestingly, the stamps went far beyond the function of a promissory note. People began to buy stamps just to own them, and even to stick them on envelopes addressed to themselves, so that the stamps would then bear the rubber stamping that the Post Office used so that a paper stamp could not be used again. Many people also began to use the postage stamps as paper currency, an idea hitherto unknown on the Sto Plains, and indeed an idea so attractive that the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Havelock Vetinari, considered making changes to the Royal Mint to replicate it.

Mr. Lipwig also pushed for the other Sto Plains cities and even farther-off countries to have organized postal relationships with Ankh-Morpork. The phenomenon is as he puts it: a succinct message can go at hundreds of miles per hour to reach its recipient at an expensive price (if and when the Grand Trunk's clacks are working properly), or a letter sealed with a kiss, or a gift with wrappings and ribbons, or a package such as a book, can reach the recipient in several days at a low price.

Current Staff

...and new counter staff and new postmen, including daughters and sons of retired postal workers, and members of any nationality and species who care to apply for a job and can read and/or write, and get money from the postal customers, watch over the inkwells, or deliver a letter. The ethnic diversity is such that, currently, the Post Office hires more golems than the Watch does. Whereas the Watch had initially hired members of ethnic minorities because Lord Vetinari forced it to, from the get-go Lipwig himself insisted on hiring anyone who could do the job.


The Post Office is located opposite the Patrician's Palace, on the corner of Widdershins Broad Way and Hill Street.

Sub Post-Offices:-

The Compleat Ankh-Morpork gives the useful information that sub-post offices have progressively been re-opened around the City in the following locations:-

  • Fiveways;
  • Buttermarket;
  • Treacle Mine Road;
  • Cockbill Street;
  • Monkey Street;
  • Basket Way;
  • Gleam Street;
  • Short Street;
  • The Soake:
  • Lower Broadway:
  • Salis Street;
  • Park Lame;
  • Long Wall;
  • Five and Seven Yard;
  • King's Way;
  • Scoone Avenue;
  • Brookless Lane:
  • Water Market;
  • Nap Hill;
  • Edgeway Road.

The Compleat Ankh-Morpork is silent as to whether each sub-post-office has its own guardian Maccalariat. But from context in Going Postal, this is a distinct possibility.

Heroes Of The Post Office:

These are past and present members of staff who have gone over and beyond the call of duty and whose actions are still cited today as inspiration to postal staff and examples to emulate. Any postman actually dying in the course of duty is assured of a place in the Roll of Honour. Really meritorious acts of valour may be rewarded, sometimes posthumously, with the Post Office Medal of Valour. Recipients include: