Postal pioneer’s former home, Morfa Conwy

Postal pioneer’s former home, Morfa Conwy

conwy_samuel_robertsBrynmair was once the home of Samuel Roberts, the first person to advocate a nationwide postal system using a uniform stamp rate. It’s now a private residence – please enjoy the view from the gateway but don’t enter the garden.

Samuel was one of three brothers who all lived here for the last years of their lives. They were born in Llanbrynmair, near Machynlleth, hence the house’s name. All three became Nonconformist preachers.

As a young man, Samuel was driven by ideas to improve society. In the 1820s he suggested making the postal system cheaper and easier to use through a flat rate of one penny per letter, regardless of distance. The idea was put into practice by Rowland Hill in 1840 with the launch of the Penny Black, the world’s first self-adhesive postage stamp.

In 1883, Samuel received £50 from the Government for his pioneering contributions to social and postal reform for more than 50 years. He had also argued for clearer rules for tenants and landlords, allowing women to vote in elections, cutting river pollution and lower taxes on newspapers. His portrait (right) was made c.1840 and digitised by the National Library of Wales.

In the 1850s, Samuel and brother Richard established an ill-fated Welsh settlement in Tennessee, where they suffered a large financial loss during the American Civil War. Details of are this on our page about the brothers’ grave in St Agnes Cemetery, Conwy.

The first of the brothers to settle in Conwy was John, minister of Seion chapel – now home to the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art. He was living at Brynmair by 1863. Such was his popularity that he received a testimonial of £800 – more than £90,000 today – from “the people” in the 1870s. He gave it all to the chapel to pay off rebuilding debts. The brothers died in 1883, 1884 and 1885.

During the Second World War, St Mary’s Convent School moved to Brynmair from Lowestoft, Suffolk, after its premises were requisitioned by the Admiralty. The Mother Superior, sisters and 28 pupils arrived by train in June 1940. At its peak, the school here had 80 children, numbers being swelled by Merseyside evacuees billeted in the district who attended because there was no other Catholic school in the area.

With thanks to Fiona Richards and Adrian Hughes, of Deganwy History Group

Postcode: LL32 8EP    View Location Map