Local Postal Services


Photo of Ewell, Post Office c1965, ref. E45228
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.

Ewell, Post Office c1965


During a recent visit to the British Postal Museum and Archive (Opens in a new window) I came across two documents that related to key dates in the Postal History of Epsom and the names of the early Epsom post masters. I do not know who the authors were but I am indebted to them. I have used both documents as the basis for the following which I have supplemented with some additional material. If anybody can add to the information on this page please let me know.
Peter Reed 2007


1635                      By Royal Proclamation Charles I let the general public use the system of Royal Posts and later the same year appointed Thomas Witherings to establish a public postal system. Initially all mail was routed through the first Posthouse in Bishopsgate Street London.
1657 An Act of Parliament fixed the rates for sending letters throughout the British Isles
4 April 1678 Postal Service established to Epsom 3 times a week. The London Gazette has the following notice:
London Gazette 4 April 1678
25 June 1683 The London Gazette reports that a daily postal service to Epsom is established:
London Gazette 25 June 1683.gif
19 June 1684 The London Gazette reports that a daily postal service was established for visitors to the Well during the season:
London Gazette 19 June 1684
1686 The London to Guildford mail route continues to pass through Epsom but is distinct from the London to Chichester route which went weekly.
London Gazette 24 May 1686
1756 Epsom is now on the mail route from London to Dorking and East Grinstead
1767 The earliest known postmark for Epsom is a straight line hand stamp on a cover addressed to The Secretary of the Foundling Society in London. (Postmarks were first introduced around 1660)
1769 Watchmaker John Cole of South Street was appointed the postmaster for Epsom and Leatherhead. (Prior to this Ralph Allen Post Master of Bath had a monopoly on the "Bye and Cross" posts.) Cole kept three horses for deliveries to the outlying areas and Dorking and Reigate
1774 Leatherhead has a separate postmaster appointed, Cole continues as postmaster for Epsom
1786 Epsom created as a 'Post Town'
Late 1700s With the decline of visitors to the Wells the amount of mail also declined and the mail route was changed form Epsom to the Brighton Road forcing the collection of mail by donkey cart from the stopping point at Croydon
1795 Epsom mail now came via Kingston which was on the new London Portsmouth mail coach route.
1804 Cole died aged 76 and John Parish appointed his successor.
1806 Parish was suspended for fraud and local tax collector John Lewis Jaquet was appointed his replacement. Mail office now Jaquet's home 94 High Street
1824 A receiving office was opened in Ewell
A print showing a mail coach decorated in the black and scarlet Post Office livery near Newmarket, Suffolk in 1827. The guard can be seen standing at the rear.
A print showing a mail coach decorated in the black and scarlet Post Office livery c1827.
1825 Henry Pownall, writing in 'History of Epsom by an Inhabitant' published by Dorling wrote
"The post-office is open every night, except Saturday, till eleven o'clock, at which hour the mail leaves Epsom of London, and, by late arrangement, letters from London may be obtained at the post-office as early as six o'clock in the morning, for which the inhabitants are indebted to the highly respectable post-master, Mr Jacquet, who has performed the duties of the office for many years with credit to himself, and advantage to the neighbourgood"
1838 A penny post to Kingswood was approved
1840 Introduction of uniform Penny Post, the Penny Black stamp and Mulready stationery (Pre-stamped envelopes and letter sheets decorated with drawings by William Mulready)
Penny Black Stamp
11 January 1843 Brickmaker William Charles Morrish Andrews was appointed postmaster. (Although Andrews officially held the office of the duties were carried out by his wife Lucy nee Dorling the daughter of printer and stationer William Dorling.) Two men now employed to carry the correspondence for Ewell, Cheam, Sutton, Banstead, Burgh Heath, Kingswood, Walton, Headley and Ashtead
1847 The London, Brighton & South Coast Railway extended to Epsom and Day-mail conveyed by Rail, but the night-mail still conveyed via the Kingston mail cart.
21 May 1857 Mrs Lucy Andrews appointed postmistress upon the death of her husband.
1858 Post office moves to 64 High Street
1861 The Post Office Savings Bank opened for business in just 700 post offices nationwide. Within two years there were 2500 post offices carrying out banking transactions.
1870 The Telegraph Service was taken over by Post Office and Mrs Andrews daughters Mary and Lucy acted as the first Epsom telegraphists
1 January 1891 Miss MA Andrews appointed postmistress upon the resignation of her mother aged 81. Miss Andrews was appointed as an employee of the GPO rather than a contractor. Presumably Epsom became a Crown Office at the same time. Crown Offices are owned and run by the Post Office as opposed to sub offices which were (and still are) run by agents - the first Crown Office openned in 1854.
1895 Epsom's first sub-post office was opened in East Street
1897/98 After lobbying for a new building by Miss Andrews new premises at 74 High Street were built with surplus capacity to cope with the peak demands caused by race days.
Photo of Epsom, the Post Office 1898, ref. 41707A
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.

Epsom, the Post Office 1898
6 May 1902 W C Meade appointed Postmaster
1907 Postmen outside Epsom Post office c1907
Postmen outside Epsom Post office c1907
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection.
3 December 1912 Joseph & Edward Bates and Sons Ltd, of Wolverhampton dispatched to the Epsom Postmaster an iron safe. The keys (2 only were supplied) were dispatched by separate cover.
1 March 1915 D G Meadows appointed Postmaster
1915 First Stamp cancelling machine introduced
1915 Nora Willis of Horton Lodge had volunteered to take the job in December and is thought to be the country's first postwoman (as opposed to letter carriers). Willis was equipped with the standard mail bag and badge: a proper uniform did not follow until later, and the 'substantial walking boots' were provided at her own expense. Shortly afterwards Frances Hamilton Pott was enlisted, and both women working part-time took over the job of one man. In consequence a temporary postman (himself a replacement for a regular worker who had already enlisted) was able to leave Epsom for the trenches.
14 August 1919 W Thompson appointed Postmaster
6 March 1923 T T Champion appointed Postmaster
7 May 1929 Captain A J Lord DSO MC appointed Head Postmaster
c1933 E552 Epsom Post Office Exterior - Showing Extension c.1933
E552 Epsom Post Office Exterior - Showing Extension c.1933
Image Courtesy of the British Postal Museum and Archive (Opens in a new window)
24 February 1937 J P Allcock appointed Postmaster
1938 P2073 Epsom Derby Day - Mobile Post Office 1938.Image Courtesy of the British Postal Museum & Archive
P2073 Epsom Derby Day - Mobile Post Office 1938.
Image Courtesy of the British Postal Museum and Archive (Opens in a new window)
29 June1937 The old Dr Barnardo's Home at 18 East Street purchased and used as the Postmen's Office for the delivery of Epsom items until 1951

The old Dr Barnardo's home at 18 East Street
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection
23 June 1941 J D Elder MSM appointed Postmaster
1 November 1948 W A Bean appointed Postmaster
3 June 1951 Postman's Office (18 East Street) and Sorting Office (rear of 74 High Street) moved to temporary premises in Bridge ROad
13 January 1952 R Mackenzie appointed Postmaster
29 October 1956 Sorting Office in East Street Sorting Office Delivery Yard in June 1969
New Sorting Office at 18 East Street Opened.
Images courtesy of Surrey Libraries and are held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection
11 March 1957 Ashtead becomes a Crown Office
1971 The National Postal Strike ran from 20 Jan till 8 March. To fill the void some businesses started their own postal services and here is an example of a locally issued stamp.
A stamp for a local Pirate Postal Service
A stamp for a local Pirate Postal Service
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection.

Link to a longer history of the Postal History of the Epsom area

About fifty ago Mr George W Challis, a former postman, recorded some reminiscences of is life and work in Epsom. Although long and incomplete this narrative is really interesting and well worth a read.

If you are interested in postal history do visit the British Postal Museum and Archive (Opens in a new window). The London Gazette can be viewed at www.gazettes-online.co.uk/ (Opens in a new window).


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