Thornbury Postmasters

Postmasters 2016-10-25T14:25:31+00:00

Click here to read about a brief history of the Postal Service in Thornbury

This page summaries what we know about the various Thornbury postmasters

John Bevan – John is the earliest example we have found of a postmaster in Thornbury.  The 1791 Thornbury Universal Directory shows that Thornbury had a ‘cross-post service to Bristol, under the direction of John Bevan’.

John was also listed in the 1830 Pigot’s Commercial Directory as being the postmaster for Thornbury.  The directory noted that letters from London, Birmingham etc arrive daily at 11.45 a.m. and are dispatched at 2.30 p.m.  Letters for Bristol, the West of England and South Wales arrive daily at 8.30 p.m. and are dispatched at 5.30 a.m.  Letters from Gloucester etc arrive daily at 5.30 a.m. and are dispatched at 8.30 p.m.  John Bevan might be the same person who was known to have lived at 38 High Street.

The Shepherds – the 1839 Robsons Directory lists George Shepherd as Post Master and Shopkeeper in the High Street.  The 1840 Tithe Survey and the 1841 census show George Shepherd as the Postmaster living at 65 High Street (now known as Blends).  He was aged 28 living with Anna his wife aged 30 and their sons: Thomas aged 8, William aged 4 and John aged 1.  Anna was the daughter of Thomas Evans, the baker of Thornbury.

George continued to be listed in 1842 Pigots Directory, 1849 Hunt & Co Directory, 1852 Slaters Directory and 1856 Post Office Directory and 1868 Slater’s Directory. We know from the records of the Postal Museum that George’s salary for running the “subordinate office” in Thornbury was £16 a year.

The 1851 census shows that George had moved the Post Office to the property now known as 45 High Street (which entirely coincidently, became the site of the Post Office again in the late 1950’s).  Various sources show George had to supplement his income from the Post Office.  The 1851 census shows George was a grocer.  The 1856 Post Office Directory indicates that George was also trading as a tallow chandler and Norwich Union Insurance Agent.  Click here to read more

W E Shepherd 1871The 1861 census shows George Shepherd was a grocer.  He died in 1870 aged 58.  The 1871 census shows that George’s son, William Evans Shepherd, had taken over the grocer’s business.  The bill head on the right shows George Shepherd’s name is crossed through and W E Shepherd’s name is substituted.  Click on the image to see more details.  We assume that he also took over the post office.  By February 1876, the shop had closed down and its stock was being advertised for sale by ‘Trustees in Liquidation’ so we assume William had to give up the business.  This seems to coincide with Henry Robbins becoming the new postmaster.

Henry Robbins – became the Postmaster around 1875.  The 1876 Rate Book shows he had set up business in Pye Corner, the property now known as 28 High Street (now used as a Thai Restaurant).  The trade directories and census records show that Henry was also involved in a number of other business activities in order to supplement his income from the sub post office.  In 1877 Henry was shown as an ironmonger, seedsman and postmaster.  In 1889 he was also noted as being a stamp distributor.  Until the 1880s the business of selling stamps had been undertaken by separate tradesmen to those that ran the post office.  Henry was the first postmaster who combined these two roles.  By 1899 Henry was a stationer as well.

Henry carried on being postmaster until around the time of his death in 1908.  He was still shown as being at the Post Office in the 1905 Rate Book.  He died in Patchway on 22nd March 1908 in interesting circumstances.
His tombstone in Thornbury Cemetery shows he had been ‘postmaster of this town for 33 years’.  Click here to read more

Arthur Charles Pitcher – ‘Charlie’ as he became to be known in Thornbury took over the sub-post office after Henry Robbins.  He had started working as a coachbuilder, wheelwright and carpenter in his father’s firm, but he had to change careers after he was taken ill and needed a lighter job.  He applied for and got the position of sub-postmaster in October 1908 at a salary of £164.

The 1910 Rate Book shows he had taken over the ownership of the property at 28 High Street and was living there.
We know from the Trade Directories that like his predecessors, Charlie had to supplement his income.  The trade directories show that he ran a stationer’s shop as well as the post office and that he later offered a library service.  Read more about Charlie

Charlie Pitcher continued running the Post Office until the late 1950’s.  He died in 1960.  His second wife, Jessie, continued living at 28 High Street and the Post Office moved to 45 High Street where it was run by David Pearce whose father had previously run a grocer’s shop in the same premises.  The photograph on the left shows the Post Office at 45 High Street.  It remained there until the late 1980’s having a coffee shop/antique shop upstairs called Granny’s Attic.  When this closed, the Post Office became incorporated into the convenience store at 9 High Street, which over the years has been called by several names, Circle K, Alldays and now operated by the Coop.  45 High Street was taken over by Manns the opticians.

Click here to read about a brief history of the Postal Service in Thornbury
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