Saturday, 4 January 2014

Bromley Postmasters 1685-1897

As I was walking past the Old Post Office in East Street Bromley I began to wonder how old the postal service was. I did some research and came up with some information.
From an act in 1710 (under Queen Anne) the prior system of postal delivery by private individuals was superseded and the transportation of letters was placed under the direction of a Postmaster General.
In 1783,mail coaches were instituted as the means of delivery and remained until the coming of the railways. The Penny post was introduced in 1840 and the postal service became more complex.
In Bromley prior to the introduction of mail coaches, the town was well served by horse carriers,cart services and coach services to London,Tunbridge Wells and Hastings and therefore the first Post Master dated from 1685.
1685-1687      Wm.Crumpe who lived neat the Bell Inn.
1687               Thos.Bennett,landlord of the White Hart Inn.
1688-1692      Thos.Godden,described as such in rate books.
1693-1695      Edmund Millington,Parish Clerk.
1696-1720      William Waldron
1728-1735       Mr. J. Lawson,referred to in rate books.
1736-1752       Wm.Wood
1752-1753       Martha Wood
1754-1774       Wm.Stich,who was a local landowner in the town.
1775-1783       John Phillips,landlord of the White Hart Inn.
1784-1786       Thomas Palmer,successor as landlord of the White Hart Inn.
1787-1788       James Wilson,Landlord of the Bell Inn.
1789-1796       William Francis Peachey.
1796-1802       Hugh Hair,Draper's in Market Place;Vintner in High Street.
1802-1811       Ann Hair;Hugh's widow.
1812-1839       John Acton,who took over Hair's wine merchant business.
1839-1857       Samuel Poole Acton,son of John.
1857-1876       Joseph Bradley Shillcock,Chemist in the High Street.
The coming of rail services at two railway stations to the north and South of Market Square replaced the need for John Palmers Royal Mail Coaches.
After 1876 the appointment as Bromley Postmaster became a sole occupation and premises were needed. The original Post Office was on the East side of the Market place and the Post master from 1876-1897 was William Hewick. In 1877 he established the Post Office on the west side of Market Square and it remained there until 1897.By 1879 the Office employed 3 telegraph boys,3 indoor postal staff and 16 outdoor delivery men.
William Beale was Postmaster from 1891-1897  when the Post Office relocated to East Street to the building now referred to as the Old Post Office. It was this building that aroused my curiousity. The Royal Mail closed the premises in the last decade;counter service is now provided within a branch of W.H.Smith in the High Street. Mail for a large part of the borough is now sorted at Dartford with local deliveries from a distribution centre in Orpington at the rear of the High Street Post Office.