Main Post Office
In common with many towns, Hastings had a number of post offices, growing from one as the postal service and population increased.
The main post office has changed location many times; being known as occupying the following locations;
|1824:||53 High Street||Mr G. West Postmaster|
|1827:||67 High Street||Mr Weston - brother-in-law of Mr. West.|
|??||55 High Street|
|1835:||4 George Street|
|1867||2 Wellington Place|
|1870||1 Meadow Road|
Originally, letters to be posted were handed in by the sender to the post office, the buildings having a window behind which sat the postal clerk who would open the window to receive out-bound mail.
A graphic example of how troublesome the delivery of post could be without modern transportation and other mechanisation was given by Edward Hide in a retrospective published in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer of 1887 which reads:-
Christmas of 1836, when unprecedented snowstorm raged over our town. "There we (the Post-office servants) were waiting about all the morning, and the mail never arrived, so at last had to set off, a lot of us, and look for it. We got round the Forty Acres, and met the guard coming on for help, and the coach was fairly snowed up."
Need we explain that the Forty Acre Field is at the very top of the Old London-road, and here on the high ground the full force of the weather was felt, and the consequence was, we have stated, the coach was blocked on its journey, and the mails and passengers, the driver, his horses, and the guard, were only safely housed after incredible exertions. For several days no up-coach was sent out, and an attempt [made] to despatch the letters on horseback, the guard and a volunteer starting off fully equipped for self-protection against dangers of all kinds, proved futile from the blinding snow, and had to be abandoned, with the authority of an Inspector from the General Post-office, who happened to be staying here at the time.
On this occasion carrying the mail bags from St. Leonards to Hastings occupied an hour and three-quarters. Communication was first restored by five men, who endured a martyrdom walking to Tonbridge bearing important despatches, where they obtained a chaise from Mr. Pawley — father, we believe, of the gentleman of that name who had the Castle Hotel, in Wellington-square for so many years — and got safely to London.
Typical early 19C route
In 1828, a letter carrier by the name of Edward Hide aged 15 had the following route as his round;
"Up the steep hill to High Wickham and Barley Lane, then down the fields to Halloway House, whence he would again set out for an uphill trudge along the London Road to the Hare and Hounds. He would then strike out across the fields to Fairlight Place (the seat of [[Joseph Planta (1787–1847)|Mr. Planta, M.P.), returning to and on to Sir Howard Elphinstone's house, Ore Place. He next walked along the Forty Acre Field to and down what is now Priory Road to St Marys Terrace (then known as Long Fields) and down The Steeps to Stonefield Road and St Andrew's Road before returning to the office which had recently moved to 67 High Street." For this he received 5s a week until after almost 10 years he became a postman for 14s a week. He continued in this post for some 35 years. Hide shared his workload with Henry Tompsett, the other letter carrier who lived at 5 Albion Place, Priory Road and the post-master G. West.
Following the move of the main post office to Meadow Road (now Queens Road) on the 28th of February 1870, a telegraph service was commenced; all lines terminating at the Post Office (the telecoms service was one of the many services offered by the post office). At this time there were 14 clerks (both postal and telegraph); two mail-sorters; 23 letter-carriers and 6 telegraph messengers under the Postmaster, Mr. Hulburd and his assistant Mr. Clark.
References & Notes
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 14 May 1887 Pg. 0007
- A Guide to Hastings & St Leonards (Thomas Ross 1835) pg.28 Google Books
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 19 February 1867 Pg. 0004
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 9 January 1875 Pg. 0005|Mr. Hulburd
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 11 June 1887 Pg. 0007
- Historic Hastings, J. Manwaring Baines pg. 297 ISBN: 0948869003 ISBN: 9780948869006 Amazon
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 9 January 1875 Pg. 0005