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.
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
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
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
Price each £90.
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.
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
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