Oxford internal mail


in Oxford

Within a university that often seems like a bewildering assortment of disconnected parts, those elements that work really well are especially appreciated. Perhaps most notable among these is the inter-college mail. You can put a paper into an envelope, drop it at the porter’s lodge, and have it delivered unto your supervisor within about a day’s time. The system is efficient, free, and practically invisible.

Finding anything out about the system is reasonably difficult. They are not included in Wikipedia’s list of Oxford institutions and Google yields no information either. The vast Oxford website also seems to be silent on the matter. They seem to have no web presence whatsoever, and manifest themselves to most people only in the form of envelopes showing up in pigeon holes or being handed to college porters. Doubtless, one of Bodley’s books contains information on them, but I can’t conceive of how to begin finding it, short of trawling through general books about the university.

The system must be a reasonably complex one: dealing with thousands of items per day, at least, moving between 39 different colleges and a large number of other university offices and buildings. I am glad that it works, though I am curious to know how.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben June 24, 2006 at 5:26 pm

It is nice, but I would no longer rely on it for anything too urgent/important. Recently an essay Andrew Melling returned to me took almost two weeks! I have had one form go missing altogether too.

Jessica June 24, 2006 at 5:45 pm

“I am glad that it works, though I am curious to know how.”

Why, owls of course, silly.

Milan June 24, 2006 at 6:02 pm

OWL (the Oxford Wireless network) is one of those things about Oxford that are inefficient, bewildering, and practically invisible because they barely exist. The difficulties of getting the colleges to agree on anything seem to be enormous. As such, it is doubly impressive that there is a mail system between them that works at all.

A. June 27, 2006 at 5:01 pm

Messenger Service Wellington Square – Head Messenger and telephone listing in the Internal Directory, but nothing in Central Admin. department breakdowns and listings.
Nothing on internal web helped – this was the only thing I found

Milan June 28, 2006 at 10:19 am


This is really interesting. Thanks a lot for the link. I look forward to seeing you on Friday.

Milan November 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm

My friend Antonia found a website with more information about this service: Messenger services

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