Hoy Express

As a subject for Edwardian Orcadian picture postcards, the Hoy Express was almost as popular as the Old Man of Hoy or St Magnus Cathedral. In the days before motorised transport, when horses and carts were still in regular use to carry the mail in rural Britain, Hoy’s own mailcart – pulled by bullock – was probably unique.

Nicknamed the Hoy Express, it was the only vehicle capable of traversing the rough moorland tracks in Hoy. The service came into existence in 1898 when a postal delivery service was established to link the Hoy Post Office at Linksness with the remote township of Rackwick. The two communities were linked by the old road running past Sandy Loch  between Ward Hill and the Cuillags and down into the valley of Rackwick.

The Hoy Express became a curiosity when Orkney’s roads were upgraded and motorised transport arrived.

The later new road passes the Hoy Kirk and the Dwarfie Stone to Rackwick.

Text edited from the book Souvenir Postcards from Orkney compiled by Norman Hudson.


The postcard below from the ‘Reliable series’ is coded no. 1091 and the same image above is no. 781 indicating the postcard series was popular enough for the publishers to re-issue it.


Sent from Melsetter in 1903 the postcard reads ‘One of the sights here. Isn’t it good? Jean’


‘How would you like a drive in a conveyance like this’ the postcard reads.


The Hoy Express used by Crawford Biscuits in advertising.  And as a calling card in this example of the printing on the back from 1914 (courtesy of Bill Barrell).


Postcards from Marion & Iain Talbot / Jean Thomson / Orkney Library & Archive.