A potted history of the courier service industry

Abetta Couriers UK Ltd - 28 Oct 2015

History of courier services

Courier services have come a long way since the days when guaranteeing a speedy delivery could only be achieved by entrusting an individual to run goods to their destination. Indeed, the word courier originates from the Latin “currere” which means to run. The first documented organised courier service dates back to 2400 BC when runners in Ancient Egypt would courier documents carved into stone.

One of the most famous couriers is, of course, the Greek messenger who having fought in the Battle of Marathon then ran 26 miles to Athens to let his fellow Greeks know about the victory. After his exertions, he collapsed and died but his memory lived on in the Olympic Marathon which originated from his infamous 26-mile run.

In addition to humans, a wide variety of animals have been pressed into service in a bid to deliver documents and packages in a speedy, efficient manner. Homing pigeons, dogs, horses and even camels have all played their part in the history of courier services.

In Australia, camels were often used before the introduction of the railroads and in Alaska and Canada dog sleds delivering mail and parcels were a common sight right up until the 1960s. Horses have a rich history of being involved in the delivery industry; in the 16th century Western Europe had an extensive horse courier network and in North America in the 1860s the Pony Express delivered mail and parcels over a 2,000-mile trail via a relay network. Of course in remote regions of the world horses can still be found delivering mail and parcels to villages and settlements.

The modern global courier service as we know it today can be traced back to 1907 when a US entrepreneur named Jim Casey borrowed a $100 from a friend and started a messenger service in Settle which later became UPS.
Others soon followed suit and to keep ahead of the game they introduced ever more innovative services from daily pick-ups to door-to-door next day deliveries, same day services and international services.

Of course, all these things are now considered the norm in the industry and what really differentiates an outstanding courier service from others is speed, reliability and personal service. Interestingly many people have gone back to using small, independent couriers rather than the larger, faceless organisations as they prefer to trust their important deliveries to companies which care about individual customers.

At Abetta Couriers, we couldn’t agree more and we think history will show that in the 2000s, personal, customer-orientated courier services were the delivery service of choice.
To find out more about our courier service visit www.abettacouriers.com or call 020 7870 3444 – twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Image credit: ZDnet

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