About Old Post Office (HT)
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In these days of instant messages, emails and mobile phones, it’s easy to forget how hard communication used to be. Take yourself back to the mid-1700’s and it was not that fast! A mail coach came from London three times a week, stopping at ‘postal controlling towns’ along the way. Rochford was made a receiving town in 1786 and a postal town in 1820. This demonstrates its importance as a central location and a hub in the area. The Rochford postmaster had to ride to Brentwood, which was the closest controlling town, to collect the post. Of course travelling in those days was by horse, so it was a round trip of about 40 miles taking the mail along country lanes and hopefully avoiding the highwaymen!
Once back at Rochford, the mail had to be sorted and then delivered but there was no ‘Postman Pat’ van for our early posties. By 1802, the mail coach ran 6 times per week and, in the 1840’s, the mail coach was replaced by the Eastern Counties railway, although a mail cart was still used to bring the mail by road from Ingatestone to Rochford. After sorting, important packages were delivered by horserider but most post was walked to the local villages. Foot messengers would walk about 20 miles per day, delivering to local villages such as Southend and Wakering.
Rochford post office has moved around over the years. The earliest postmaster sorted the mail at one of the local inns but, by the early 1800’s, an old thatched cottage off North Street was used. The postroom moved to what is now 46 West Street in 1852 when Henry Wood became postmaster. He had a hole cut in the wall to conduct postal business. It transferred across the street a few years later when the ironmonger took charge of the post.
Then, in 1892, it was transferred to 45 West Street when the local printer, F. W. Francis, became postmaster. Maybe you can still spot the different brickwork where the posting box was removed from the wall. Mr Francis also continued with his printing business at number 47 and lived at number 49. Subsequently, the office was moved to North Street into the Old Police Station and is now in Market Square.
|41 West St
|Point of Interest, Rochford
Old Post Office (HT) is included in the following trails:Outer Heritage Trail