Postcards arrive more than a century late as amateur historian sends antique messages back to their original destinations in ‘random act of kindness’
- Ben Curran collects old postcards and decided to send them to original address
- 45-year-old from Norwich has posted around 40 since he started in 2017
- Some date back to First World War and come with anti-loneliness message
Old postcards from more than a century ago are turning up again at their original destinations thanks to an amateur historian and his ‘random acts of kindness’.
Ben Curran, 45, buys antique cards from second-hand shops and sends them to the address on the back in a bid to combat loneliness and isolation.
The mental health worker, of Norwich, Norfolk, has sent 40 of his ‘Postcards From Time’ since he dreamed up the idea in 2017 – but has only had one response.
Among the vintage cards is one from a British soldier fighting at the close of the First World War, scolding his daughter for not keeping in touch with him.
Ben Curran, 45, buys antique cards (pictured) from second-hand shops and sends them to the address on the back in a bid to combat loneliness and isolation
This First World War era postcard depicts a soldier writing home to his lover. It is among several Ben Curran has accumulated to send to its original addressee
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Mr Curran said: ‘It all started from my interest in history. I was doing some research into Edwardian actors and actresses and realised that a lot of actors from that period were on postcards.
‘It just occurred to me to send them back to the original addresses.
‘I was just interested in the concept of how isolated people are these days, and how receiving letters means a lot to people and shows there are people out there who care. I just do it as a random act of kindness.’
Ben, who works for mental health charity Julian Support, said: ‘There was a father writing to his daughter back home saying to her ‘I haven’t heard from you’.
‘That is something a parent would feel when their child goes off to university, and here is a father sat on the front line in Belgium or France feeling this way.’
The mental health worker, of Norwich, Norfolk, has sent 40 of his ‘Postcards From Time’ since he dreamed up the idea in 2017. This one depicts a scene in Scarborough town centre
The back of the Scarborough postcard reads: ‘Hear you are enjoying yourself. I hope you will have a jolly good time and fine weather’
Mr Curran sends the cards with a message saying he is ‘returning this little piece of history to the place where it belongs’.
The message suggests that people tell a neighbour about their card, or write a comment on the project’s website.
He added: ‘A few postcards were from soldiers in WW1 writing back to their loved ones letting them know that they were okay.
‘Others were just from people on holiday saying that they were having a nice time and that the weather was good or bad.
‘There were a range of different messages – I guess the postcards were like the text messages of their day.’
An antique postcard shows the church in the north Cornwall seaside resort of Bude
The back of the Bude postcard is addressed to Hammersmith in west London
This is the back of a postcard Mr Curran has collected of Ashstead Church in Surrey
Mr Curran wants to set up a bigger community project to help bring lonely people together.
He said: ‘They don’t have to respond and there is no monetary value.
‘They are just given an opportunity to talk to other people who may feel isolated.
‘I don’t know who these people are but it just felt like a nice thing to do.
‘I have had one response so far but the importance for me is just trying to create connections in a world where people feel disconnected.’
He also sees the scheme as a way of sparking people’s curiosity about the history of their street or local area.
He said: ‘I have to check whether the addresses still exist – but even that in itself is interesting.
‘The urban landscape has changed – there have been times I look up an address and it is now a car park or a shop.’
Pictured left is the front of a postcard depicting Ashstead Church in Surrey and right are the Dare Sisters of acting and fame
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