Robert Murray Stamp Shop, Edinburgh
Established 1977
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1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh had hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1970, for which a set of three stamps was issued, and again in 1986. The principal venues were Meadowbank Stadium and the Commonwealth Pool, plus various other locations were used. This page tells the story of some of the first day covers produced at the time.
Games logo
The Games ran from 24 July to 2 August 1986. There was considerable contoversy around the games, partly because of the shortfall in funding which led to Robert Maxwell's grandstanding participation as "financial saviour" (most of which money never came !), and partly because thirty-two countries stayed away because of the UK Thatcher Government's connection with Apartheid South Africa. However the games did go ahead in good spirit, and Edinburgh was a welcoming host city.

Royal Mail issued a set of five stamps on 15 July - more than a week before the games started - four for the Commonwealth Games and one for the World Men's Hockey Cup being held in London. We felt that as local stamp dealers we should be doing something special for the new issue. There was going to be a Mobile Post Office and special posting box at the main stadium at Meadowbank, but that wasn't going to be operational until the events started. Then we managed to find out the postal arrangements for the "Athletes' Village". Many of the athletes and officials would be living at Pollock Halls of Residence, normally student accomodation for Edinburgh University. Royal Mail were going to set up a temporary Post Office within the confines of the Village so that athletes would have convenient access to various postal and money services. The good news for us was that the Post Office would be opening in advance of the sporting events, as many athletes would be arriving from around the world during the days before the Opening Ceremony.

On 14 July I went up to Pollock Halls with my regular Saturday assistant of the time, Douglas Turner. The purpose of this visit was simply to find out what could be done. We arrived to find that the place was quite quiet but that security was already in place. It took us some time to explain why we wanted access to the Post Office here, when there was another Post Office just down the road !  Eventually we filled in some forms, had our photographs taken, were issued with temporary passes, and got into the Games Village. The postal services were being provided by a Mobile Post Office (vaguely similar to a large caravan) in the grounds. We introduced ourselves, asked what services they were providing, what postmarks were being used, and so on. Ordinary mail was going be sent on for standard handling in the Edinburgh sorting office and would just get the standard Edinburgh machine marks. However, they had two counter datestamps which would be used for receipts and to cancel registered mail. We posted a few items to get certificates of post etc., thanked the staff for their help, and told them we'd see them the next day. On the way out (at a different gate from that by which we'd entered) I was asked if I was coming back in, and having said "no" had my pass taken away. Quick-thinking Douglas said that he might be back in, so got to keep his - a useful move !

The next morning (15 July) the stamps were issued and we prepared our batch of first day covers. I was going to be occupied in our shop, so Douglas Turner went up to Pollock Halls (a.k.a. The Commonwealth Games Athletes' Village) to get them posted. Entry was so much easier, as he was simply able to swap one day's temporary pass for the next. Fifty first day covers were posted, which received an even mix of "A" and "B" datestamps. On later discussion with the Sub-Postmaster we were informed that ours were the only first day covers that had been handled in this way, apart from one he had sent to his daughter (inspired by ours !). It appears that all others on the market with this postmark were postmarked with the 15 July cancel, but at a later date, and possibly not actually at the Games Village.

We believe that the only 1986 Commonwealth Games first day covers genuinely posted and cancelled at the Games Village on the day of issue were the fifty we serviced, plus the single one by the Postmaster.

We made some reasonable sales of these at the time, but our remaining stock was squirelled away. 2014's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow seemed a good time to bring these out again to offer to a fresh generation of collectors.

                        Commonwealth Games first day cover
This is the first day cover we produced, with the full set of five stamps. Equal numbers were produced on 15 July with "A" or "B" handstamp codes. The example shown here is about average for quality of cancellation - clear but not heavily inked. We serviced fifty in total.

The BFDC Catalogue lists these at �125, but this we understand to be for those (still in relatively small numbers) that were produced by favour.

Price each �90.
Commonwealth Games Village
24th July cover by Recorded Delivery, the first day of the Games. Correct date on receipt, but for some reason not put into the postal system until 4 August.
Note that the handstamp used is the "MOBILE POST OFFICE 1" with code "F", although we were under the impression that only MPO2 was in use. This receipt was obtained at the Games Village.
Commonwealth Games Village cover
Registered envelope posted on the first day of operation of the Mobile Post Office. Code "A".

We have (at the time of writing) a few items such as those shown here, and would be happy to discuss their possible sale to a suitable collector.

Robert Murray Stamp Shop
5 & 6 Inverleith Gardens
Scotland EH3 5PU
Tel. 0131 552 1220 or 0131 478 7021
Email; [email protected]
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Page last updated Tuesday 24 June 2014. Copyright Robert Murray 2014.
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