Rowland Hill: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Rowland Hill.

  • Rowland Hill was an English inventor, teacher and social reformer. He is famous for coming up with the idea for the basic postal service, including stamps.
  • He was born in 1795 in Kidderminster and at the age of 12 taught other students. In 1819 he opened a revolutionary new school which had heating, a science laboratory and a swimming pool.
  • Rowland Hill worked on a plan to colonize parts of Australia during the 1830s. The colony would have no convicts and would have all the good qualities of British society.

Rowland Hill

  • His interest in the postal service began when he was 8 years old. His family could not afford to pay the postage and sent Hill to sell his old clothes to afford it.
  • In the 1830s, postage was paid by the recipient, not the sender. Hill argued that there should be a better system and came up with a flat rate, regardless of distance.
  • Adhesive stamps were already being used to pay taxes and Hill felt they could be used to pay postage too. Hill presented all his ideas in a series of pamphlets.
  • The Penny Black was issued in May, 1840 and was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp. Today, an unused Penny Black stamp can be worth as much as £4,000.
  • In 1843, Hill became chairman of the London and Brighton Railway. He introduced many changes including comfortable trains and low fares and helped make Brighton a popular place to live.
  • Rowland Hill died in 1879, in Hampstead, London where a local street was named after him. He is buried in London’s Westminster Abbey and has a memorial in Highgate Cemetery.
  • Hill’s home town of Kidderminster has the Rowland Hill Shopping Centre. There is a statue of him in the town, as well as statues of him in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

What next? Discover some facts about other famous Victorians, or visit our Victorians resources page.

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