According to Wikipedia, the first public post box in the United Kingdom was installed at Botchergate, Carlisle, in 1853.
The following article, published in the Leeds Mercury (24/Nov/1855), shows that Huddersfield wasn’t too far behind:
Street Letter Boxes
The Postmaster of Huddersfield has ordered four pillar letter-boxes to be placed in the streets for the accommodation of the inhabitants. The first is situated in Bradford Road, where Fitzwilliam Street crossed it ; the second in Halifax Road, at the top of Fitzwilliam Street ; the third on Chapel Hill ; the fourth on Seed Hill. The letters in them will be taken to the Post Office at 6:45 am, at 7 p.m., and 10:45 p.m., except on Sundays, when they will not be visited.
The approximate locations of the four boxes are shown in red on this 1908 map of Huddersfield, with the believed location of the Post Office in 1855 shown in blue. By 1874, the Post Office had moved to the market side of Northumberland Street (shown in green) and the building still stands. In 1914, the current Post Office was built on the opposite side of Northumberland Street to the old one.
In fact, the Mercury was reporting old news, as the post boxes were actually erected the day before, on Friday 23 November. The Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Nov/1855) gave the following details:
They are cast iron pillars, of an octagonal form ; and will prove a great advantage to the inhabitants of those localities [where the pillars stood] by saving them the necessity of coming into town to post letters. For the information of those depositing letters in the boxes, we may state the boxes will be opened at a quarter to eleven a.m., and again at seven p.m., for the purpose of transmitting the letters by the mails. It is to be hoped that not only the police, but the public, will take an interest in guarding these boxes from any abuse to which inconsiderate parties might attempt to subject them.
It’s possible they looked this surviving octagonal box, situated in the village of Holwell, Dorset (photograph by Barry W.):
A few months earlier, the Huddersfield Chronicle (18/Aug/1855) reported that on 13 August an important alteration to the postal system in Huddersfield had been introduced — “The principal is to give every house, as far as practicable, a free delivery of letters.” The article also mentioned the plan to install the four post boxes and predicted that this, together with the free delivery of letters, “cannot fail to give satisfaction both to the town and the neighbourhood.”
Speaking of old post boxes, here’s one from the reign of Queen Victoria in the little hamlet of Helme, near Meltham, which is still in use:
If anyone knows of other old and/or interesting post boxes in the Huddersfield area, please leave a comment!
William Moore (1797-?)
The Postmaster of Huddersfield, William Moore, was born in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, in 1797.
Moore had taken up his position by the time the Civil, Ecclesiastical, Literary, Commercial, and Miscellaneous History of Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford, Wakefield, Dewsbury, Otley and the Manufacturing District of Yorkshire: Volume 2 was published in 1834:
The Post-Office at Huddersfield is in New Street, Mr. William Moore is the post-master. Letters from London, Pontefract, and Wakefield, arrive every evening at six, and are despatched every morning at a quarter before six. Letters from Leeds, Halifax, and Manchester, arrive every morning at a quarter-past seven, and afternoon at a quarter-past two, and they are sent every morning at a quarter-past ten, and in the evening at six o’clock. There are foot-posts to Lockwood, Honley, Thong Bridge, Holmfirth, Paddock, Slaithwaite, Marsden, Longwood, Almondbury, Dogley Lane, Kirkburton, Crossland, Netherton, Eltham1, Deighton, Sheepridge, Rastrick, Brighouse, Dalton, Kirkheaton, Lepton, Lindley, and Out-Lane, every morning (except Tuesday) at eight.
By the time of the 1851 Census, he was the Postmaster for Huddersfield and was residing on Morpeth Place, Seed Hill, with his wife, Mary, and two of their children. I wonder if it was a coincidence that Moore chose Seed Hill as one of the four locations for the first post boxes?
The 1861 Census shows him still living at Seed Hill, with his son William residing next door with his family.
The following are a summary of newspaper articles relating to William Moore, all from the Huddersfield Chronicle
- 12/Jul/1851 — Joseph Gaunt, landlord of the Queen Hotel, Market Street, was fined for assaulting William Moore.
- 18/Dec/1852 — Mr. Moore’s son, William, married Harriet Frances Akers, at the Parish Church in Halifax on 16 December.
- 22/Jan/1853 — To celebrate the marriage of his only daughter to Mr. John Dobson of Kirkburton, Moore threw a party for the Post Office staff at the Ship Inn. The landlady, Mrs. Richardson, provided “an excellent supper”.
- 25/Nov/1854 — Moore brought a prosecution against farmer George Heap for attempted to steal £5 worth of manure from near Moore’s property at Seed Hill. Moore represented himself, “in his own peculiar style, exciting occasionally much merriment in court”. The court ruled it had no jurisdiction in this case, as Heap had permission to collect manure from the streets of the town.
- 03/Feb/1855 — Mr. Moore’s swift actions had saved other packages after someone had illegally posted a package of “wax lucifer matches” which spontaneously combusted in the Post Office.
- 12/May/1855 — The Postmaster’s annual salary was given as £180, with the total cost of providing the postal service for the Huddersfield division being £1,411.
- 13/Oct/1855 — The Post Office received a letter addressed to: “thomas grange, cark ey etin spank, ncar, huddersfreed, englind speed.” It was reported that this had been interpreted as “Thomas Grange, Spangled Bull, Kirkheaton, near Huddersfield, England. Speed.”
- 13/Sep/1856 — A couple of weeks previously, Mr. Moore’s beloved dog, “Curry”, had gone missing. Moore affixed a sign to the front of the Post Office reading, “My favourite dog, ‘Curry’, is lost, nay, stolen — for if the wicked holder will only set him at liberty. I warrant that the beautiful, sleek, chestnut animal will bound his joyous way to Seed Hill. Faithful creature as he is — worth a thousand two-legged animals such as the thief who stole him — if any kindly being will give the hint where he is located, he will receive a full reward.” The Chronicle took great delight in revealing that the dog had been located locked in Lockwood’s Yard on New Street and that it had been the “two-legged” Mr. Moore himself who had accidentally locked Curry there “in a moment of forgetfulness”!
- 12/Jun/1858 — George Whitehead, a printer who occupied a part of the building above the Post Office on New Street, was charged with assaulting Mr. Moore on 3 June. Whitehead would occasionally work throughout the night and insisted on having the front door to the building left unlocked. Moore had repeatedly remonstrated with Whitehead over this, as it left the Post Office (and the other businesses in the building) vulnerable to robbery. On the night of the incident, Moore insisted that the door must be locked overnight and Whitehead had “both struck and kicked” the Postmaster and then threatened to assault Frederick John North, a post office clerk. In court, Moore was asked if Whitehead struck him more than once, to which he replied, “Aye, hundreds of times. It would be incident or I would bare my body ; you would then see I am full of wounds from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.” Whitehead was found guilty of assault and fined £2 19s.
- 25/Feb/1860 — Mr. Moore’s speech at the “8th annual soiree of the Milnsbridge Mechanics’ Institute” was reported.
- 02/Mar/1872 — A discussion around the potential sites for the new Post Office (which was subsequently built on Northumberland Street) mentioned that the post service in Huddersfield began around 1850 (in reality, it had begun before 1831, when he was suspected of intercepting mail) and that Mr. Moore and his son (also named William) were now running a stock and share brokering business.
- 31/Jan/1874 — At the annual meeting of the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce it was reported that the council were deeply unhappy with the choice of Northumberland Street as the location for the new Post Office.
- 15/Jan/1876 — A reunion took place to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ramsden Street Independent Chapel and Schools, with around 1,100 former scholars present. Amongst those sending their apologies for not being able to attend were Mr. Moore, “the late postmaster for Huddersfield.”
- 19/May/1886 — Mr. Frederick North, who worked under Mr. Moore in the early days of the post service in Huddersfield, had been promoted to role of Postmaster of Grantham.
As mentioned above, after stepping down as the Postmaster in the late 1850s, William Moore set himself up as a broker on New Street with his son and their adverts regularly appeared in the Chronicle:2
Post Office (187?–1914):
Post Office (1914–present):