Mansfield's Foundries & Roadside Letter Boxes

I believe Mansfield is unique in having two foundries that cast letterboxes for the Post Office. These were two of many foundries throughout the country who cast Letter Boxes since their introduction in 1851. Roadside Letter Boxes were instigated by Anthony Trollope the author, whose full time employment was with the Post Office.


The first of these was the James Maude Sherwood Foundry (Founded 1788) who made Letter Boxes for the London Company W.T. ALLEN who had a contract for supplying the Post Office with Wall Boxes and Lampboxes over a long period of time. James Maude producing many variations when taking into account the different sizes, styles, and the change of monarchs i.e. VR (Queen Victoria), GR (George V), EVIIR (Edward VII),     GVIR (George VI), EIIR (Queen Elizabeth II).

James Maude Wall Boxes

Between 1881 – 1965 they produced 73 versions of Wall Boxes. The Post Office stopped purchasing Wall Boxes in 1980, but continued with their everyday use on our streets up to the present day.

James Maude Lampboxes

Since Lampboxes were introduced, there have been more variations of Lampboxes produced than any of the other designs of letter boxes, but James Maude only ever produced six versions, this was between 1933 – 1955.

James Maude Contract for Letterboxes

It is assumed that James Maude Foundry lost the contract production of letterboxes, was this due to price? Had the foundry change its skills? It is known that in later years they specialised in precision moulding.

In Feb 2006 after going into receivership, the James Maude Foundry site was sold to a housing developer and is now a housing estate.

In the book ‘The Letter Box’ (1969) by Jean Young Farrugia, (one time chief archivist at the Post Office Archives), she confirms that it was the James Maude foundry that cast letter boxes for W.T. Allen, but does not state their connection

I have continued to research this, but so far have not been able to establish the relationship between W.T. Allen and the James Maude’s Foundry, was it a sub-contract, or were the two companies linked in some other way? My research at the Post Office Archives does not throw any light on this; can anyone provide an answer?

Dispatched through the Post Office

John (Jack) Wakefield who started work in the Post Office in 1932 eventually becoming Mansfield’s Head Postmaster from 1968 until when he retired in 1976. He recalled to me that during the 1930’s the Letter Boxes manufactured by James Maude for the Post Office used to be dispatched through the Mansfield Sorting Office. The Post Office staff used to wrap them in the large parcel postal sacks for protection and they were then sent as normal parcel post, but sometimes some still got damaged.


The second foundry was Meadow Foundry (Founded 1852), who between 1964 and 1980 only cast the large double aperture Type ‘C’ Pillar Box, which had their name cast onto the front base of the box. This was shortly after the Foundry relocated in 1963, from Littleworth to Sheepbridge Lane, the site of a subsidiary company that it had taken over in 1957.

Meadow Foundry went into liquidation in 1985.


Does anyone have any additional information on the production of Letterboxes at either of these foundries to add to this web site?

Web Site links to more Roadside Letter Box Information

The Letter Box Study Group

The British Postal Museum & Archives

Comments about this page

  • Regarding James Maude, I don’t think WT Allan had any connection, I knew the Fish family who were descendants of James Maude, George Fish lived at Greystoke a semi detached near St Marks Church, John Sooby the well known Est agent bought it after, George Fish moved to King Edward Ave, the family basically drew out, didn’t invest in. John Taylor who knew my late father took it over then Barry Gibson, again who knew father Tug. I knew Margaret, a daughter who married a bank manager, and Winifred who married a Littlewood, a brother I never met lived at Newark. The firm drifted downwards, no doubt the hard workers got a bad deal out of it, it would have been very hard going during the Fish time, I found James Maude’s grave stone in the cemetery a while ago, the family were related to Shacklock solicitor, again I believe he did a lot of generous benefactor work.

    By Mark Wilson (08/11/2019)
  • Brian Moody has responded to the post by Fred Newton, above, by creating a new page entitled ‘Mansfield’s Foundries’. Fred Newton spoke  about the Sanderson & Robinson foundry and made reference to Walter (Walt) Moody who is his father. Please take a look at the new page for more information and photographs.

    By The Editors (16/09/2014)
  • I started working at Meadow Foundry in 1959 and then on to James Mauds in 1982. I was involved at Meadow Foundry in the making of the last dolphin lamps for the Thames embankment and also the double sided post office boxes. I retired in 2004 and have very fond memories of both foundries. Bob Betts

    By Bob Betts (09/02/2014)
  • What a coincidence, just last week my wife and I were having a coffee break at the Café Nero coffee shop opposite the Ritz hotel on London’s Piccadilly when she said “You won’t believe this but that post box was made in Mansfield”. It had two apertures and near the bottom front it clearly stated “Made by the Meadow Foundry Company, Mansfield, Notts”. from this article I now know that this was a Large Double Aperture Type C Pillar Box.

    By John Walker (29/06/2013)
  • The three companies that merged in 1956 were actually Meadow Foundry Company Ltd./Sanderson and Robinson Ltd./Korting Brothers (1917) Ltd. – the Sanderson and Robinson shareholders also owned Korting Brothers, and instigated the merger in order to expand. If anyone has further information, I’d be really interested, as my Great Great Grandfather was Frederic Arthur Robinson – the original Robinson from Sanderson and Robinson Ltd.

    By Andrew Dove (07/06/2012)
  • I am interested in finding information about Luke Abbott who founded the Sherwood Foundry in 1788. I’d especially like to know about his family and if he if he was born in Mansfield or Derbyshire. Arla Weiss

    By Arla Weiss (05/12/2011)
  • I started as a labourer at Sanderson and Robinsons in 1961,after 2 weeks I was redeployed into the blacksmiths and welding shop to work with Cyril Kent, he operated a machine that made heating pipes (Gilled pipes)he taught me to weld and other skills, after a year I was put to work with Walt Moody a maintenance fitter and learnt various skills around the foundry. I will always be grateful to these two men as they taught me a lot,it was a dirty job but very enjoyable as the workforce were a brilliant lot. I left in 1967 but still have very fond memories of the place.

    By FRED NEWTON (05/08/2011)
  • I saw many of the items mentioned being moulded and cast and helped make quite a few in the sixties , which though I didn’t know it at the time was the ‘golden age’ for employment . Does anyone know of any photos published of Meadow foundry – I have found one but it was before the foundry moved to Sheepbridge Lane.

    By Anthony Holmes (30/06/2011)
  • Meadow Foundry /Sanderson & Robinson /Bowes Scott & Weston were the three Companies that eventually operated off Sheepbridge Lane (Century Avenue) Apart from the Town & Country Post Boxes They Produced many other notable items paticularly in the Sixties !— GPO Telephone Junction Boxes (there is One on Sandy Lane) 2 Non Slip Treads for the steps on The London Undergound (if in Trafalgar Square look at the Steps) Also the steps for the Carriages on the Tube Trains bearing the coach builders name Metro Cammell Weyman 3 If you are In London and on the embankment then look at the Dolphin Lamp Standards well over a Hundred were made for the extension that was being created. 4 Covers for the underground Pipes at Power Statins (Cottam and Drax certainly) One could go on and On what the Highly Skilled Workforce were Cable Off in The Good Old Days

    By Mgr (05/10/2010)
  • re: Mansfield Foundries and Roadside Letter Boxes. Manhole covers were also produced in Mansfield. Several years ago I was staying at a small hotel in Sussex Gardens, Lancaster Gate, London. Just outside the front door, and purely by chance, I happened to notice the word ‘Mansfield’ on a (Victorian?) manhole cover set in the pavement. I also noted the name of the firm which cast it, but unfortunately I can’t remember what it was. I have not paid much attention to manhole covers around Mansfield- but if I did I suspect I would find that many were produced locally. Andrew Giles

    By Andrew Giles (12/07/2010)

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