Sir Rowland Hill
Born on 3rd of December 1795
Died in Hampstead, London
Died on 27th of August 1879
We remember Rowland Hill for his work revolutionising the postal service, but he was a man of many interests, driven by a social conscience to improve and innovate.
Hill was born in Kidderminster on December 3 1795, the son of a schoolmaster whose circle of contacts – Tom Paine and Joseph Priestly among them – reflected his political outlook. The young Rowland worked for his father as a teacher, later establishing Hazelwood School in Edgbaston before moving the institution to Tottenham in 1827. He advocated education as a lifelong process, giving children the skills to cope in life rather than merely cramming them with facts, with a then unusual focus on science.
From 1832 to 1839 he was actively involved in the colonisation of South Australia without the introduction of convicts, promoting religious and personal freedoms there.
In 1837 Hill had a pamphlet on postal reform circulated, advocating lower charges to increase usage to the benefit of commerce and literacy, and prepayment of mail thus avoiding the rejection of letters by the poor, and saving the costs of repeat visits to attempt delivery. Though many in power rejected his ideas as fanciful, in 1839 he was given a two-year contract to make his changes, cutting charges at once, and in the following year bringing in the 1d uniform postal rate, and the use of self-adhesive stamps.
In the 1840s when the Conservative Party temporarily pushed him out of the Post Office, and in later life, he worked in the railway industry, again advocating reductions in charges to boost usage and somewhat against the spirit of the age suggesting the national ownership of the railways. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was knighted in 1860. Hill died in Hampstead on August 27 1879.
internal link Bath Postal Museum
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1 Response to Sir Rowland Hill
From Artie on 27th April 2009
Until 1833 was a teacher. Interested himself in socialistic schemes. Advocated a low and uniform rate of postage to be prepaid by stamps in Post-office Reform (1837). January 1840 a uniform penny rate was introduced. Advocated national ownership of railways.
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