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Scholes Postal Services, the Origins

from The Barwicker No.56

Regular postal services began operating in the mid 17th. century, and an Act of 1656 established 'one general post office and one officer stiled the Postmaster-General of England and Comptroller of the Post Office'.

Mail coaches were introduced in 1784, and in 1830 mail was first conveyed by rail. Initially letters were charged by weight and distance, but in 1840 the Penny Post was devised by Sir Rowland Hill (1795-1879) (Secretary of the Postmaster General) introducing a standard (any distance) charge. He also invented the adhesive stamp.

Prior to the introduction of the Penny Post the majority of letters were paid for by the recipient, the charge being written on the front in black ink. Pre-paid stamps were identified with red ink.

In 1822 the Leeds Post Office was situated in Call Lane, the former residence of Alderman Atkinson. The work force included Letter Carriers, Riding Postmen and Walking Postmen. One of the latter, Benjamin Atkinson made deliveries every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to Seacroft, Thorner, Barwick-in-Elmet and Scholes. In 1837, when the Leeds Post Office was at Mill Hill, Village Letter Carrier Elizabeth Buckley covered Killingbeck, Seacroft, Thorner, Barnbow and Shadwell.

It was decreed in June 1893;

'that the establishment of rural posts should be based on the number of letters for each locality'
'all places the letters for which exceed 100 per week should be decreed entitled to a Receiving Office and free delivery of letters.'

From 1885, as a new office was opened, it was issued with a comparitively cheap rubber handstamp. This was normally applied in violet ink until about 1911 when the colour was changed to black. The Scholes stamp was still in use in 1948.

The location of the earliest Post Office in Scholes does not appear to be officially recorded. The late Mr Henry Shippen in his 'Memories of Old Scholes' states:

'Just opposite the Chapel in a cottage was the village Post Office and eventually it moved across the road to a larger house immediately opposite the Barleycorn Public House.'

The 1908 edition of the Ordnance Survey map shows the PO (Post Office) symbol outside No.69, Main Street; the middle of the three properties opposite the Barleycorn Public House.

In 1895 the Parish Council proposed the formation of a small committee to represent each of the three wards; the members for Scholes being Crs. Thomas Crosland and Arthur Chippindale, and in 1896 the Scholes ward was asked to advise on a suitable candidate for the appointment of a sub-postmaster at Scholes. In October 1896 the name of Thomas Fenwick was submitted to the Leeds Postmaster for approval. This was an interesting choice as in 1881 the occupation of Thomas Fenwick is recorded as Wheelwright and later in 1915 as Carpenter.

About this period, certain conditions governed appointments to the Post Office Service, under the auspices of the Civil Service Commissioners. There were elementary tests in writing and arithmetic and reading from manuscript. No connection of the management with an inn or public house was permitted and Sorters, Stampers or Railway Messengers must not be under 5ft. 3in. high in their stockings.

Thomas William Fenwick was born in 1854 at Whinmoor, living in Barwick for a time before residing at No. 69, Main Street, Scholes. His wife was Ada Mary (ne Worrall) of Hull and they had two daughters Alice Mary (b. 1888) and Annie Rebecca (b. 1889).

In 1897, during the years of Arthur Chippindale's Chairmanship, the Parish Council minutes record a variety of issues relating to the local postal system. On 4 January, a request was made for postal delivery for Laverack and in September the matter of non-delivery of letters to Flying Horse Farm was raised with Mr Vinall, the Leeds Postmaster.

A request for the earlier delivery of letters at New Manston was made in October, and the Postal Authorities were again petitioned in November to 'despatch the letters from the Station Box at Crossgates at least an hour later than at present in the evening.' The meeting of 4 April 1898 noted a letter to the Postal Authorities at Leeds, for a money order office at Scholes, which required a guarantee of 5.0.0., half by the Postal Authorities and half by the guarantors. As an aside, in July 1987, the West Riding County Council were contacted regarding the desirability of providing a Police Station, with cell accommodation at Crossgates, suggesting a possible rising crime problem.

Thomas Fenwick died in August 1926 and his daughter Annie, succeeded as village postmistress, aided by her elder sister, now Mrs Alice Lawton, wife of James William Lawson.

The post office was eventually moved to new premises at 102 Main Street, a Draper's Shop, at the junction of the Belle View Estate with Main Street. Kelly's 1936 directory includes a Scholes Commercial entry: 'Crick, Annie Eliz. (Miss) - Draper', and a year later the Parish Magazine of June 1937 contained an advertisement for 'Fenwick and Lawson - General Drapers, Stationery and Fancy Goods, etc.

The post office remained at this address for some 60 years, managed for long periods by Mr Lockwood and Mrs Joan Long. In the meantime all the residences in the village were systematically numbered, and later in November 1968, the Six Figure Postal Code was introduced. Personnel delivering mail included Tom Pearson, Mrs Oliver and Mrs Elsie Wilson. In January 1998, the post office was again re-sited to its present location at Pennock's Newsagents, 34 Station Road.

Thus just over 100 years have elapsed since the establishment of the village sub-post office and the initial use of a Scholes individul hand-stamped post mark.

1. 'Leeds and its Sub-Offices to 1900' by Dennis Boyer and Herbert Clarkson (1981)
2. Mrs Fiona Flanagan of Tingley, Wakefield, for details of the Fenwick family history.


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