The Royal Mail came by creel

From an article in Tional – May 1992
The history of the delivery of mail in Pairc is a story of considerable achievement by the handful of men and women whose determination, vigour and sense of purpose enabled their small, remote communities to receive the advances in communications offered by the Post Office in the second half of the last century.
The role of the redoubtable Ishbel Nicolson, Calbost, in pioneering the postal service in Lochs as it opened up new frontiers to reach more and more people stands out as a tribute to her resourcefulness, enterprise and ingenuity at a time when women were not generally expected or encouraged to play a prominent part in the day to day life of their communities.
Mail Deliveries in Pairc

Much more so than nowadays, women were left to tend to the family’s needs, rear children, manage livestock and perform some of the more burdensome and unpleasant tasks associated with the crofting way of life.
Ishbel, or Belle as she was known, was the daughter of Murdo Nicolson (Murchadh Dh’ol Thormoid), of Calbost, and she had gone over the Loch to Crossbost in the late eighteen sixties on her marriage to Kenneth MacKenzie (Coinneach Ledidh), 28 Crossbost, who had recently returned home from service with the Hudson Bay Company in Canada.  Over the Loch (null air a loch, or thall air a loch) were commonly used phrases of the day which have now fallen into disuse, signifying the close bond of friendship that existed between the inhabitants of the villages that existed on both sides of Loch Erisort and the harmonious social interchange that prevailed when only a short sea crossing separated them, compared with the long, winding stretch of road that served to isolate the communities from each other from the late nineteen twenties onwards.
The Post Office opened a branch in Stornoway in 1756, from where it administered a disbursement fund to finance the delivery and collection of mail in rural areas.  The first known postman in Lochs was Allan Ross who belonged to Crobeag and lived from 1803 to 1870.  Allan Ross was a schoolteacher at Keose before moving to Crossbost at the time of the disruption in the Church of Scotland in 1843.
He was an outstanding lay preacher in his day and he later became an office-bearer in the Free Church at Crossbost.  It is, perhaps, safe to assume that the School was founded by the Free Church, as its ruins may still be seen close to where the Church stands to-day.
Allan Ross’s son, Roderick, qualified as a doctor of medicine and established a practice at Valtos, Lochs, and later in Borve, Lewis.  On Allan Ross’ death in 1870, Belle acquired the portable box that symbolised her new status as a servant of the Crown as well as the contract to collect and deliver mails in North Lochs at a starting salary of two shillings and sixpence a week – twelve and a half pence in to-day’s currency.
The horse drawn gig which carried the mails passed down the Stornoway-Harris road and Belle met up with it at the Creagan Ban junction at Leurbost on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week.  She walked all the way round her extensive territory and carried the mails in a creel on her back.
In 1883, Belle established the first regular mail delivery service to South Lochs by running a ferry across Loch Erisort from Crossbost to Cromore.  For the first eight years, the service operated over the summer months only, beginning in May and ending in October.  Meanwhile, her salary had increased to four shillings (20 pence) a week with a seasonal increment of one shilling (5 pence) and a further six shillings (30 pence) for running the ferry service to Cromore.  She delivered the mails on foot as far as Lemreway.
Belle continued in her dual role as postwoman in North Lochs and ferry operator to Cromore until the late 1880s, when her brother-in-law, Donald MacKenzie (Domhnall Alasdair, 1835-1912), of 19 Crossbost, took over the ferry service in her place.
He remained in the post until 1905 when he was succeeded by Bell’s son, Ebenezer (Abie), who kept up the family link with the run until he was called to serve in the First World War in 1914.  It then passed out of the hands of the immediate MacKenzie family for the first time when Murdo MacDonald (Murchadh Dhomhnaill Mhurchaidh), 29 Crossbost, became the ferryman and he kept the deliveries going until 1920 when Donald MacArthur (Dan), who opened a sub Post Office in Cromore in October 1912, started operating the service from the Cromore side of the Loch.  According to tradition, the ferry service was always people-friendly and it became commonplace to come and go between the two communities “air a phost“.
Kenneth MacKenzie (Coinneach Ledidh), Belle’s husband, had set up a sub Post Office in Crossbost in 1874 and Belle and all their children became proficient in the work and skills required to run a busy post and telegraph office.  Kenneth Mackenzie’s family had been evicted from Orinsay in 1843, having been earlier removed from Buthinish in Pairc to make way for the improvements sought by the landowner which led to the creation of the Pairc Sheep Farm.  At one time, the Post Office house at 28 Crossbost was named “Buthinish” in honour of their ancestral home.
Belle MacKenzie, who lived from 1845 until 1914, retired from full-time service with the Post Office in 1905.  She had given 35 years of service and had seen the regalia of her Office transformed from a portable box and a creel to a fitted out, modern Post Office complete with the telegraphic system of communications installed in November 1886.
Following her retirement, her son, Kenneth, became sub Postmaster.  He did not enjoy the best of health and as his condition worsened, his brother, John, responded to the family’s request to return home from service with the Militia in Fort George to help them run the service.  When Kenneth died in 1909, at the age of 32, John was appointed sub-Postmaster in his place at the age of 23.
John (Seonaidh Choinnich Ledidh), like the rest of the family, had been taught by his mother and father how to conduct the differing aspects of the job and had been helping with deliveries since the age of 11.  For a time, John continued to pick up the mails from the Stornoway gig at the Creagan Ban, Leurbost, but this run was later taken over by Danaidh MacKenzie (Crossbost) until the service was made redundant by the introduction of motorised deliveries from Stornoway to Crossbost in 1923.
John married Barbara Alasdair Ruaidh, of 24 Crossbost, and had a family of six daughters, all of whom were taught the mechanics and intricacies of operating the wide range of services that a community post office provided for its customers.
After 47 years of service, John retired in 1956 but sadly he died in the first year of his retirement at the age of 71 in 1957.  He had been held in great esteem by successive generations and it was not surprising that one of his daughters, Katie Ann, succeeded him on his retirement, giving up her job in London to return home and maintain the family’s long connection with the postal service.  Another sister, Mary (Mairi Bhan) was a regular standby and had staffed the counter many times over the years until her marriage to Murdo Livingstone and subsequent departure from the family home.
Katie Ann’s period as sub Postmistress came to an end after three years in 1959 when she emigrated to Vancouver, Canada, where she still lives.
The link with Calbost starting with her grandmother, was renewed when Katie Ann’s sister, Ishbel, was appointed sub Postmistress in 1959.  Ishbel had recently retired from a nursing career with H. M. Forces and had been decorated for meritorious service in several theatres of operations, including Trieste, Sicily and Korea.  Ishbel had married Donald MacLeod (Dan), formerly of 8 Calbost, and ran the Post Office in Crossbost until she died suddenly at work in November 1978.
Her death brought to an end a remarkable period of service by one family to the Post Office spanning a total of 108 years.  A span of years which saw many developments in the expansion of the postal services and even greater changes in the prosperity and lifestyle of the people it sought to serve.
Mrs. Muriel Morrison, 44 Crossbost, was appointed sub Postmistress in 1979 and the Post Office remains there to the present day.
In October 1912, Donald MacArthur (Dan) opened a sub post office in Cromore and started to operate the ferry service that brought the mails over from Crossbost on the other side of Loch Erisort.  He also undertook deliveries locally in Cromore until 1931.  The mails from the other villages in Southern Pairc were collected from Cromore by John MacLeod (Iain ‘an Choinnich) 3 Calbost, and he also delivered door to door throughout Marvig and Calbost.  There was a large, wooden box measuring 5 ft. by 3 ft. located at the end of his house which became known locally as the Post Office and which was used for storing postal material until it was collected by the authorised delivery men.  Donald Kennedy, 22 Lemreway, started collecting the mails for Gravir, Lemreway and Stiomreway from Calbost in 1912.  He was only 17 years of age at the time and made the entire journey on foot.  He dropped the Gravir mails at the sub Post Office at 19 Gravir and sorted out the remainder in a shed near croft number 20 Outend, Lemreway.  He then did the house to house deliveries in Lemreway.  After a year in the job, he left to join the Police Force in Glasgow and following training, he was assigned to patrol duties in the Gorbals district of the City.  He resigned from the Force at 12 months, returned to Lemreway and took up his duties where he left off the year before.  He was called up for service during the Great War in 1914, and spent 4 years with the Seaforth Highlanders before taking up his duties with the Post Office once again in 1918 when he was discharged at the end of the War.  Donald was now the proud owner of a horse and gig which made his journey less arduous as well as improving the efficiency of the postal service in the area.  Donald Kennedy continued in service until 1927 when the Post Office placed the contract for operating the service out to tender for the first time.  The contract was won by Malcolm Morrison (Calum Eachainn) 43 Gravir, and he also had a horse and gig on the run until the service was re-organised in October 1930, when the Royal Mail van deliveries started coming from Stornoway calling at Cromore, Marvig, Gravir and Lemreway.  The first driver on the run was Kenneth MacLean (Brand)