The Madras G.P.O. started functioning from June 1, 1786 and the first Postmaster-General was Sir Archibald's secretary, A.M. Campbell. Robert Mitford was appointed the Deputy Postmaster-General. The G.P.O. was served by one Writer (clerk), five sorters, a head peon and ten postmen. They worked out of a building that was “at the beach in Fort St. George square.”
Madras GPO was from the beginning a pioneer post office in providing better facilities to the public. The postage rates in Madras Presidency were cheaper than at Calcutta upto 1837 when uniform postage was introduced all over India
In October 1837 the post office moved to “the old Bank” building inside the Fort, what is now the Fort Museum. And then in 1856 to Garden House, Popham's Broadway, near the Kothawal Chavadi market. Eventually, in 1884, it moved into its own building, the handsome one by Chisholm that it still occupies.
The Madras Post Office, as it was generally called, began expanding its services when it opened receiving offices (as opposed to full service offices that also delivered mail) in March 1834 at Hunter's Road in Vepery and what is now Westcott Road in Royapettah. In February 1845, four more receiving offices were opened, on Mount Road, in Triplicane, and two in Black Town (yet to become George Town). Receiving offices were added in San Thomé and in Teynampet, near St. George's Cathedral,
Madras GPO was the first to introduce window delivery of letter on 1850 while no such facility was available at Calcutta. There was a boat contractor to bring mails from streamer to harbour. No other person expect one postal official on duty was allowed on the boat. The mails were carried from harbour to G.P.O in bullock cart with 3 Coolies accompanied by a postal office in 1855. Not long afterwards, six more receiving offices were opened.
All this expansion warranted a large main post office for receipt of mail and distribution and the Madras Chamber of Commerce urged the Governments of India and Madras in 1868 to build a large General Post Office in a central place. Only Rs. 2,00,000 was sanctioned for this purpose by the two Governments in response to the proposal, construction of GPOs in Calcutta and Bombay being cited by the GoI for its inability to contribute more. Eventually, the present site — where the Abercrombie Battery had once been — was selected in 1873, but there was no money to proceed with the work till 1880. The Chamber then urged that both the Post and Telegraph Departments be housed in one building and that, as this would necessitate an even bigger building, the Abercrombie Battery site not be divided between the Bank of Madras and the Post Office as had been intended.
The three-storied building, 352 feet long, 162 feet broad, and with 125-foot tall towers, was inaugurated in 1884. Besides a high ceilinged central hall, the ground floor provided space for stores, kitchen, servants etc. The first floor was used for offices. And the second floor served as accommodation for officers. The Postmaster-General moved in on March 1, 1884 from space he was occupying in the Mercantile Bank building further down the road, and the Broadway staff moved in on April 26. The new building had cost Rs. 6,80,000 against an estimated Rs. 6,92,000. Those were the days when such things could happen
Department of Posts issued a commemorative postage stamp in memory of Madras GPO completion of 200 years
Issued Date : 09 - 10 - 1986
Denomination : 500 Paise