Who was he?
Ralph Allen (1693 – 29 June 1764) was an entrepreneur and
philanthropist, and was notable for his reforms to the UK postal
system. He was baptised at St Columb Major, Cornwall on 24 July 1693.
As a teenager he worked at the Post Office.
Why was he in Bath?
He moved in 1710 to Bath, where he became a post office clerk, and at
the age of 19, in 1712, became the Postmaster of Bath. At the age of 27
Allen took control of the Cross and Bye Posts in the South West under a
seven-year contract with the General Post Office. Over the next few
years he reformed the postal service, improving efficiency by not
requiring mail to go via London. There is a plaque in the present Post Office
building. In 1742 he was
elected Mayor of Bath, and was the Member of Parliament for Bath
1757 and 1764.
With the arrival of John Wood
Allen used the wealth gained
from his postal reforms to acquire the stone quarries at Combe Down and
Bathampton Down Mines. The distinctive honey-coloured Bath Stone, used
to build the Georgian city, made Allen a second fortune. He was
extremely astute at marketing the qualities of Bath Stone. The building
in Bath which he used as a post office became his Town House in 1727
when a new facade and north wing were added, designed by John Wood the Elder
. Allen continued to
live there until 1745, when he moved to Prior Park, and the townhouse
became his offices.
Access to the façade is restricted - the view below is taken
from the alley at the side of the Huntsman pub:
A plaque is located on this elevation but it is in a private courtyard
and not normally accessible:
The text reads
"Here lived Ralph Allen 1727 - 1764"
Location map of Lilliput Alley, North Parade:
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