A Ferry Merry Christmas – Brownsea Island gets Christmas by boat

By Chris Dawson December 6, 2019 - 1:06 pm

The Brownsea Island postal route in Dorset has been completed by boat for over 100 years. Royal Mail postman Sheridan Bartlett is one in a long line of postmen and women to deliver the islanders’ mail by boat – if you have had any orders destined for Brownsea Island than Sheridan may well have delivered them! One of the best parts of our national postal service is that they deliver to every address in the UK on a daily basis at the same cost no matter how remote or difficult the journey.

With a population of around 30 residents, the tiny Brownsea Island in Dorset can hardly be described as a bustling metropolis. But this makes little difference to Postman Sheridan Bartlett, the latest incumbent in a long line of mail-bearing seafarers to complete the route. Postal deliveries to the island have been completed by boat for over 100 years.

Sheridan revels in his role of keeping this close-knit community connected to the mainland by bringing them their mail on the morning ferry. He especially looks forward to delivering cards and gifts to the islanders at this festive time of year.

Brownsea Island is owned by the National Trust and is home to around a dozen houses. Located in the middle of picturesque Poole Harbour, the island is famed for its breath-taking views and diverse wildlife.

The Ferry sets off at 7.55am each morning, and crosses the four-and-a-half-mile waterway. Once on the island, the route covers 12 delivery points, including the local National Trust property office and historic Brownsea Castle, as well as the homes of the Trust staff who live on the island. But the extremes of the British weather – particularly during the winter months – mean that this delivery round is not always plain sailing.

“When the sea whips up it can get pretty rocky at this time of year. It can also be quite dark when you set off in the mornings. But it’s a fantastic, close-knit community on the island. I have got to know most of the residents there over the past few years, and they really appreciate the fact that Royal Mail delivers throughout the Christmas season. It’s great to see their faces light up when you arrive with a cherished delivery.”
– Sheridan Bartlett, Brownsea Island, Postman

Delivering letters and parcels amidst a backdrop of fresh sea air and stunning scenery means that Poole-based Sheridan, who has worked for Royal Mail for 27 years, counts himself as one of the luckiest postmen in the country.

“One of the things that many postmen and women I speak to love most about their job is the chance to be outdoors. I’m particularly lucky with the rare combination of fresh sea air, amazing wildlife and beautiful countryside.”
– Sheridan Bartlett, Brownsea Island, Postman

This mix of woodland, grassland, heath, open freshwater, seashore, mudflat and lagoon incorporated within a small island, creates a diversity of species rarely matched by places of a similar size. It is also home to red squirrels, largely because non-native grey squirrels have never been introduced to the island.

“Brownsea Island is one of our most unusual and most scenic postal routes. We really value the opportunity of helping this close-knit community stay connected with friends and family during the festive season!”
– Matthew Goodwin, Westbourne Delivery Office Manager, Royal Mail

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