One of the few things you can buy, by way of souvenir, on Ascension Island is stamps and other philatelic items from the Post Office in Georgetown. I will refer to this again in a ‘shopping” review. Here I will relate a little about to-day’s and yesteryear’s stamps and mail services to the island.

Long before anyone lived on Ascension it had, in the 17th century, become known as the Sailor’s Post Office. It was a place where ships would drop of correspondence for other ships or for other ships to pick up and carry on to another destination. This leaving of messages was an inspiration for the islands existing letterbox walks about which you can read more in my letterbox walks review.

A more formal postal service started in 1867 when the UK’s Postmaster General first sent stamps to the Island for sale. Mail delivery and pickup was handled by a combination of the Union Castle Steamship Company (to 1977) and the Royal Navy (to 1922).

113It wasn’t until Ascension Island became a dependency of St Helena in 1922 that it got its own stamps – which were in fact St Helena stamps overprinted with Ascension. There was an instant demand for these stamps from collectors worldwide. On 20th August 1924, the first sets of Ascension definitive stamps were produced, and demand increased. A new and still very important export business had been born on Ascension Island.

Today, Ascension Island issue five or more sets of commemorative stamps each year. Stamp designs are agreed by the Philatelic Committee, which consists of members of the public, and is chaired by the Administrator. For those readers who have read my tip All things British – Government – you now know one of the ways the Administrator fills his day!


To protect the integrity of this important industry the Post Office operates within the strict regulations of the International Postal Union so, for example, all first day covers are actually cancelled in the Ascension Post Office – notwithstanding that stamps etc are all printed overseas.

Notwithstanding all these stamps there is no postal delivery service on Ascension Island. All postal addresses, are those of employing organisations who collect the mail from the Post Office. Internal deliveries between organisations are to separate boxes, one for each organisation, outside the Administrator’s office. Mail within Ascension, other than business mail, is very rare.

111Airmail to and from the island is received and dispatched twice a week (now curtailed) via the RAF fight that flies between the UK and the Falkland Islands. Surface mail and parcels arrive every month from the UK on the MOD chartered Shipping Service, also en route to the Falklands. Surface Mail to and from Cape Town and St Helena travels on the Royal Mail Ship, RMS St Helena.

In addition to being able to procure your Ascension Island philatelic requirements, those from St Helena and Tristan Da Cunha can also be procured at the post office (or via its online service if you cant make it to Ascension Island).

Address: Post Office, Georgetown Centre
Website: http://www.postoffice.gov.ac/

This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on my trip to Ascension Island. I suggest you continue with my next entry – HERE.
To return to the beginning of this loop click HERE.



9 thoughts on “The Royal Mail

    1. Good question! I am originally from the UK and tire of flying there so a boat trip up the Atlantic seemed a nice option – via the Trans-Siberian remains on my to do list. More seriously I have an interest in these sort of remote locations and actually wanted to visit Ascension and St Helena (seperate batch of reviews here) and wanted to take a trip on the RMS St Helena one of only 4 operating Royal Mail Ships still in operation (and possibly the only one still regularly carrying mail). Interestingly the Queen Mary II carries the RMS designation. As the RMS St Helena departed Cape Town I was also able to fit in a quick safari and a train ride in South Africa on this 6 week long trip to the UK. I flew back non-stop (well one refuelling stop) to Oz. Not the sort of trip I have the time or the money to do on a regular basis LOL.

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        1. About 6 weeks all up, while the end of the trip was to see family in UK – I only spent about a week there (!!!). I love walking but I also love doing absolutely nothing too. While I was a little apprehensive of the boat trip about 5-6 days and then 2-3 days it was amazing. Less than a hundred passengers so you got to know them all (and indeed the crew) .. some amazing people — the stories of people that do trips like this can be quite fascinating… the food was fantastic too… so with doing this, that and the other on the boat , hardly an idle moment.

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          1. I imagine you would meet some real characters on a trip like that! It’s no Disney Cruise, that’s for sure!

            Did you have any deep sea, big sea days where the boat rocked a lot? That’s the part I just couldn’t do well. It really got to me when we went whale watching… and the only other time I spent significant amounts of time at sea was when we took the ferry to Ireland… and I took enough benadryl to sleep 17 hours and missed it all!

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          2. Once we left the coast off Cape town the ocean was literally like glass till we approached St Helena – similar en route to Ascension. I could not believe it.

            There were a few St Helena kids aboard who behaved immaculately throughout.
            There was one passenger who never got of the boat and returned to Cape Town as he had done for something like 10 times before. Also there were engineers building the airport on St Helena, a guy who had visited all countries/territories in the world bar 3-4 one of which was St Helena (totally up himself!) and a group of birdwatchers who were actually fun and showed slides etc at night while identifying birds for us on days birds could be seen. The primary objective of their visit was to see a wirebird on St Helena. On the day they spent on another part of the island looking for wirebirds I dropped into where they were staying for some St Helena coffee and located one on the lawn outside their bedroom windows ! They did find some, though.

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