Red letter day for Deirdre

PUBLISHED: 12:41 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 May 2010

Deirdre on the trike

Deirdre on the trike

IT really was the last post for Deirdre Tomlinson s final day at work. For 33 years Mrs Tomlinson has been a familiar face in the streets of Knebworth delivering the post in fair weather and foul. Now after popping her final item of post through a letterb

IT really was the last post for Deirdre Tomlinson's final day at work.

For 33 years Mrs Tomlinson has been a familiar face in the streets of Knebworth delivering the post in fair weather and foul.

Now after popping her final item of post through a letterbox in Orchard Way, she has hung up her bag, having walked an estimated 50,000 miles in that time.

Not only has Deirdre delivered the mail but over the years has also been a canteen assistant at Knebworth School and even had time to be the village road sweeper.

But at 65 she says her feet need a rest and she has three decades of housework to catch up on at her home in Lytton Fields where she has lived with her husband Anthony, 68, for the past 42 years.

She is also beavering away in her garden and allotment and the large garden shed she built herself from building materials she salvaged from skips in the street and building sites.

Villagers might also catch a glimpse of her riding around on her 850cc Suzuki motor-trike she affectionately calls Froggy.

For 30 of her 33 years she failed to miss a day's work through illness and even admits to carrying her heavy post sack feeling groggy and sick.

And on many occasions she came face to face with what all posties fear - growling dogs. Many who sunk their teeth into her flesh she remembers by name and there was even a cat that nipped her.

Despite the pussy biting her she will spend her retiring years raising funds for North Herts Cat Protection. She is a great cat lover with her own named Poliphant after the medieval musical instrument her son plays.

She even recalls the day when she became a member of the Royal Mail staff.

"It was on November 11, 1972 and I was virtually grabbed off the street to become a part-time postie," said Deirdre.

"When I started the uniform was navy blue with red piping. Then it went light grey with contrasting colours and we looked like ice cream salesmen.

"Now we are back to navy blue and the red piping!"

Deirdre said when she started there were eight staff in Knebworth working in the large shed at the back of the Post Office sorting the mail before departing on their rounds.

"We worked in a double beach chalet and then I went out and delivered one and a half pouches a day," added Deirdre.

"When I retired there were 13 of us and we still used the beach hut as well as a portable building. I was delivering four pouches a day and it was very tiring.

"In the old days we had a two-wheeled barrow and two of us used to collect the second delivery off the train at Knebworth station with the guard chucking it out for us."

Celebrities and other well-known public figures that have been served by Deirdre include singer Marty Wilde, film buff Barry Norman, Lord David Cobbold and MP Barbara Follett and her novelist husband Ken.

"At one time there were three Tomlinsons working as posties in Knebworth. Working alongside me was my husband and eldest son," said Deirdre.

"But I was also the road sweeper. I had a green barrow with gold coronets painted on each side. I was queen of the road and once at the village fete I wore my wedding dress which still fitted me then.

"I also remember getting bitten and knew the dogs and cat that nipped me. There was an Irish wolfhound called Murphy, an Alsatian called Hoss, several Jack Russells and a ginger cat.

"Now I can relax in the mornings but on the day I retired people were so nice to me I almost regretted retiring.


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