Alan Driver, OBE: Norwich head postmaster oversaw electronic mail sorting

E A Driver12/12/73

E A Driver12/12/73 - Credit: Archant

A former head postmaster, Alan Driver, who has died aged 95, started his working life as a junior reporter on the EDP's sister paper, the Norwich Mercury.

When he retired after nine years as Norwich post master in 1975, it ended a 41-year career at home and abroad. He had been made OBE in the New Year's Honours and received his award from the Queen at Buckingham Place a month later in February 1973.

Seconded to the Colonial Office in 1949, he spent 10 years working in Africa helping to re-organise the postal services in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika and was responsible for postal services in the East Africa High Commission territories.

Born in Norwich on March 4, 1917, Ernest Albert Driver, who was always known as Alan, won a scholarship to Norwich School. His first job was on the staff of the Norwich Mercury, then in Redwell Street, and he became 'Big Brother Ben,' in charge of the children's feature. When he offered a readers' prize for the biggest potato, he was sent so many that he was able to take two sackfuls home to his mother.

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In 1935, having passed the Civil Service entrance examination, he abandoned a newspaper career and joined the General Post Office (GPO) district surveyor's office at Ipswich.

Married to Grace in October 1939, shortly after the outbreak of the second world war, he joined the Royal Engineers. He saw action in Norway, the Middle East and western Europe and was at the War Office before being demobilised with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

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After the war, he was based at GPO headquarters as inspector of postal services. Later, he was Postmaster-General for Trinidad and Tobago for three years and represented the West Indies at the XIV Congress of the Universal Postal Union in Ottawa, Canada, in 1957.

Returning to Britain, he was head post master at Truro, Cornwall, before a further three-year spell in the West Indies. Then, in 1962 he was head postmaster at Chesterfield for two years and at Eastbourne, Sussex, before returning to his native city in May 1966.

The Norwich postal district, which was one of the biggest in the country, extended over more than 1,800 square miles from Wells to Diss. He was responsible for 440 post offices and 1,800 staff including sub-postmasters and also running postal savings and the telegraph service.

As Norwich has pioneered post codes in 1959, he was in charge of one of the most technologically advanced postal sorting offices in the country, which used postcode equipment and electronic mail sorting machinery.

His wife, Grace, who died in 1991, had enjoyed some success writing romantic fiction. He was an honorary life member of the Probus Club of Norwich and had been a member of the Victoria Bowling Club since 1975

He leaves two children, daughter Elizabeth, and son, Alan, five grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements to be announced.

Michael Pollitt

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