Letters: Architects who put their stamp on the Post Office

Letters: They exemplified qualities now anathema to government and incomprehensible to most architects: civility, authority and the dignity of the non-commercial public realm

Ian Jack's necessarily nostalgic discussion of the legacy of the cruelly undermined Post Office (The great age of the Post Office is past, 7 April) perhaps underestimates the value of its architecture. For there were not only the grand stone head post offices in cities like Glasgow and Hull, but also the purpose-built offices in almost every town in Britain, which have now mostly been closed and sold off. These were designed by sophisticated but anonymous talents in the Office of Works, almost always in that now unfashionable and misunderstood style, neo-Georgian, but subtly adjusted to site and to local building traditions. Sober, reticent but clearly recognisable as post offices, enhanced by noble bronze Trajan lettering, they exemplified qualities now anathema to government and incomprehensible to most architects: civility, authority and the dignity of the non-commercial public realm. Unprejudiced examination might suggest that they were among the best as well as the most characteristic examples of British architecture of the first half of the last century.

Now most of these fine buildings have been abandoned, perhaps more of them deserve protection through listing.
Gavin Stamp
London

• John Cranston's assertion (Letters, 6 April) that Gandhi is "the only person who wasn't white" on Royal Mail stamps is not true. Looking though the past decade, I found Claudia Jones (civil rights activist, 2008) Olaudah Equiano and Ignatius Sancho (Africans who became famous in the abolitionist struggle, 2007) and Mary Seacole (nurse, 2006). Few living people of any colour are depicted on UK stamps unless they are royal. However, generic pictures are used and there have been several occasions when non-white British people have been shown, or they have been depicted in issues celebrating or commemorating general activities and achievements, eg the Notting Hill Carnival (1998), the rights of children (2001), food (2005) scouts and guides (2007), various millennium issues depicting, for example, footballers and soldiers, and the special Christmas stamps in 2005, which showed paintings of the nativity from around the world.
Graham Mytton
Bookham Stamp Club, Dorking, Surrey

• Gay people depicted on British stamps, a definitive list: Emperor Hadrian, Kenneth Williams, Freddie Mercury, King James I, Antony Sher, Ian McKellen. Gay fictional character: Albus Dumbledore (depicted twice). More or less bisexual people: Shakespeare, Lord Olivier, Dame Daphne du Maurier, Alexander the Great, Virginia Woolf, Mary Wollstonecraft, David Bowie. Then there is that treacherous category, "never married": Admiral Robert Blake, Marea Hartman, Eleanor Rathbone, Robert Boyle, MR James, Joan Mary Fry, the last two appearing in the series that includes Alan Turing, whose commemoration sparked this discussion. It is certainly surprising that Royal Mail has yet to get around to Oscar Wilde.

Regarding gay actors (Many gay actors still fear coming out, 7 April): Alec McCowen was out gay long before young whipper-snappers like McKellen and Callow. I once asked him about surviving as a gay actor. "Oh, all actors are more or less gay," he said, adding after an exquisitely judged pause, "with the possible exception of Jack Hawkins."
W Stephen Gilbert
Corsham, Wiltshire

The GuardianTramp

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