The 1851 census records that Frenchay Post Office and grocery shop was run by a single woman called Hannah Vowles. She lived in the building at the top of Frenchay Hill (now called the Old Post Office) with her 80 year old mother. She continued the run the Post Office until her death in 1897, helped by her niece Kate.
2 people were required to run the Post Office, which played an important role in the community. There were 2 daily deliveries and 2 collections. In the early days Hannah had to meet the coach to collect the letters. Most houses had no address but Hannah knew all the residents of Frenchay and delivered the letters personally.
After the death of Hannah, Kate continued to run the Post Office, now located in the building opposite the original one. She died in 1922 aged 82. Her niece Mabel took over on her death and then Mabel’s daughter Barbara Higgins ran the Post Office until it finally closed.
In 1985 a nasty incident took place. Barbara had finished work for the day and went opposite to see her friend, Lionel Jenkins, taking the day’s takings with her. Thieves learned of her habit of doing this and broke in. They tied them up and stole the money. Lionel was so affected that he died shortly afterwards and Barbara never opened the Post Office again.
In 130 years there were only 4 Post Mistresses – all related to one another.