Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Article by Eric Fowell, 2009
Royal Mail in Rushden

This early postcard shows the bustle around the Post Office
in about 1905,and before the High Street was widened.

The first postal service was delivery by Royal Mail coach pre 1800. Rushden was on the London to the North route.

Northampton 'Mercury’ July 4th 1807
On Saturday afternoon as Charles Matthews, a lad employed in carrying the 'Mails’ from Northampton to Higham, was passing Wellingboro Bridge on his return from Higham, he was met on the narrow part of Bridge by a single horse chaise, & by some means ran his pony against the point of one of the shafts which struck the boy in the lower part of his body with such violence that he was thrown off, and expired on Monday. (copied Feb 5th 1908) J.E.S.

An extract from the Post Office Directory shows our first sub post office in 1841 in Rushden High Street on the corner of Post Office Yard, and the Sub Postmaster was Thomas Packwood. The yard was near where Boots the Chemist is today, but the cottages had been demolished by 1870. The population of the village was 1311 in 1841.

Extract from the memories of Mr Wm Sanders Ladds

“I was born in Rushden,” said Mr. Ladds, “in a house in what used to be the old Post Office Yard opposite Mr. Warren’s shop. The house had one room downstairs, and after my birth the whole of the Post Office work was done in that room. This was when Mr. Packwood was postmaster.”

The next Sub Post Office was at what we call today 35 High Street. Mr Charles Hewitt was the Sub Post Master. From about 1870-1903 our main Post Office was in Wood Street, Higham Ferrers. In 1850 John Sanders was Post Master and in 1870 John Groom was Post Master. I have a list of Rushden Postmen which will appear in a later edition of the “Risdene Echo”. Two of them were Jonathon Seckington and Cornelius West who was also our Town crier and bill poster.
The shell hood over the doorway with Royal Mail crest above.

With the coming of the alteration in the structure of local government in 1891 a ‘Local Board’ was created. They had the massive task of making facilities for a small town and they pressed hard on the General Post Office Headquarters in London to build a new main Post Office in Rushden.

After years of badgering and applications by 1902 plans to build the new General Post Office on the corner of High Street/College Street were passed. This land formerly belonged to John Cave of Rushden, a distinguished boot and shoe manufacturer, known as the Cottage Estate. The building plot was formerly site of Alf Wilmott’s shop. By 1903 the building was under construction and within the same structure was to be the London City and Midland Bank whose former building in High Street was destroyed in Caves fire of 1901.

I have no idea of the architect and I believe that it was built by Robert Marriott. This impressive building had a fine, shell-like, stone doorway, a most imposing structure with some fine stone work depicting Royal Crest, E.R. and lion above the main entrance. The clock above the doorway was given by RUDC, about 1906. In some directories it was known as the Central Post Office. Mr Sidney Field was the first Post Master with quite a large staff. Later Harry Goldsworth was Post Master. The door at rear, in College Street, was access to the first floor where the Telephone Exchange was established. The bank was on the north side of the Post Office.

The replacement in College Street
By 1939 a new Post Office and Sorting Office was built in College Street and the Midland Bank moved into the old Post Office and part of the building became the headquarters for the local shoe makers’ association. During the 1939-45 War a record amount of money was raised during Warship Week, etc. and National Savings Scale board was placed on frontage.

Snippets from other sources
Wellingborough News, 14th June 1879, transcribed by Kay Collins

WANTEDA respectable Girl, aged 21, wants a situation as UNDER HOUSEMAID or GENERAL SERVANT.
Address E. B., Post Office, Rushden.

Wellingborough & Kettering News, December 31st, 1881, transcribed by Kay Collins

ACCIDENTIn consequence or the very dangerous state of the footpath near the residence of Mr. T. Sanders, between Higham Ferrers and Rushden, the Rushden postman, J. Seckington, fell on Saturday evening last and very seriously injured his knee.

Wellingborough News, 14th December 1894, transcribed by Kay Collins

POSTAL IMPROVEMENTS - Commencing on Sunday next the usual morning despatch of mails from Rushden will be discontinued and a despatch at five o’clock in the afternoon substituted. For this despatch all the pillar letter boxes will be cleared at from ten to thirty minutes earlier according to their position in the town. Starting the following day, there will be an extra delivery of letters commencing about half-past five in the afternoon. There will also be an extra despatch of mails at 3.35 in the afternoon, and the 8.5 mail will not be despatched until 8.35 p.m. Letters posted too late for the latter will be sent out the following morning at 5.35. Mails will thereforth be despatched at 5.35 a.m., 10.15 a.m., 3.35 p.m., 5.40 p.m., and 8.35 p.m., but the letter-box will probably close about five minutes earlier. Parcels received up to six o'clock in the evening will be sent on by the Higham bus. The office will continue to close at 8 p.m. as at present.

Postmasters Sub-Postmasters [From Trade Directories]
1861 Thomas Packwood
1864 - 1869 William Packwood
1874 - 1900 Charles Hewitt
1902 - 1919 Sidney Field
1920 John S Keeling
Kelly's 1898 Mr. J. T. Reid - sub-postmaster [142 W'boro Rd]
1901 census Charles Hewitt - sub-postmaster [35 High Street]
Kelly's 1903 Mrs. Emily Mary Berrill sub-postmistress [78 W'boro Rd]
Kelly's 1903 Ebenezer Brown - sub-postmaster - 3 Newton Road
Kelly's 1914 J. Eagle - sub-postmaster - High Street South - Commerce House
Kelly's 1914 George Brown - sub-postmaster - Higham Road
Kelly's 1914 T. Overy - sub-postmaster - 49 Newton Road
Kelly's 1914 Miss Grace Neillie Harris - sub-postmistress - 144 Wellingborough Road
Kelly's 1920 Miss Emily Brown - sub-postmistress - 10 Higham Raod
Kelly's 1920 T. Overy - sub-postmaster - 49 Newton Road
Kelly's 1920 Miss Grace Neillie Harris - sub-postmistress - 144 Wellingborough Road
Kelly's 1924 Mrs Emily Watson - sub-postmistress - 10 Higham Raod
Kelly's 1924 James Bernard Langdon - sub-postmaster - 75 Newton Road
Kelly's 1924 Miss Grace Neillie Harris - sub-postmistress - 144 Wellingborough Road
Kelly's 1928 Sub-Office - 10 Higham Road
Kelly's 1928 Sub-Office - 75 Newton Road
Kelly's 1928 Sub-Office - 146 Wellingborough Road

William TaylorThe Rushden Echo, 29th January, 1915, transcribed by Jim Hollis

A Rushden Telegraphist
Mr. William C. Taylor, son of Mr. W. H. Taylor, of High-street, Rushden, who had volunteered for service with the army as an office telegraphist in the Royal Engineers, leaves Rushden on Monday for the Birmingham headquarters. Mr. Taylor has been employed at the Rushden Post Office for nine years.

Mr. Edgar J. Deacon, of the Wellingborough Office, a friend of Mr. Taylor’s, also expects to leave next week to join the Royal Engineers as an office telegraphist.

As a boy, Robert Gerald Dykes was employed as Post Officer at Rushden. He had moved to Northampton Post Office when he enlisted in 1914.
Rushden Echo, Friday, August 15th, 1919, transcribed by Kay Collins.

Postmaster. The Chairman said he had received a letter from Mr. S. Field, wishing, through him, to thank the inhabitants of Rushden for the courtesy they had shown to him during his 17 years' stay at Rushden. The Chairman added that they were all very sorry to lose Mr. Field, and they wished him and his family every success in their new sphere.

It was decided that the Clerk should write to Mr. Field, thanking him on behalf of the town for the way in which he had, carried out his duties.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the History index
Click here to e-mail us