Take a journey back in time and meet the people who changed the world
In 1837 Roland Hill, a former teacher from Kidderminster, put forward a proposal to change this unfair and not particularly profitable system. He suggested that as long as it weighed less than half an ounce (14g) a letter should cost a uniform one penny whether it travelled two miles or 200 miles, and that it should be paid for by the sender. From this proposal the world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black, was born.
It was isolated areas that were most in need of this innovative idea. As such the first place in the UK to have them installed was St Helier in Jersey. This took place in November 1852 and was followed shortly after in 1853 by six boxes in St Peter Port on Gurnsey, one of which is now in our collection and may well be the oldest pillar box in the world.
Delivering in town...
In London there was a need for letter carriers to look smart when delivering to people’s homes, as before 1840 it was only the wealthy who could use the postal service, so they had been provided with a free uniform since 1793. The uniform consisted of a bright red coat, with blue detail and a top hat made from fur.
Delivering in the country...
Letter carriers in the country weren’t as fortunate as their urban counterparts. It was almost 80 years later that they were provided with free uniforms. This was despite the fact that they would often have to walk further, meaning they could work up to three hours more a day, and often in worse weather.
Exhibition content - Dominique Gardner
Digital production - Rachel Kasbohm
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Royal Mail and The Trollope Society