The Start of the Post Office
By 1870 the population of Freshwater Bay had grown to such an extent that demand existed for a local post office. Julia Margaret Cameron, the pioneer photographer, mentioned this need in a letter to the Post Office authorities and recommended William Thomas Orchard as a suitable candidate for the post.
The letter ran as follows:
I write to you regarding the change to our Post Office arrangements. I have written to Sir John Simeon and the Sec of the Genl Post Office and they both refer me to you – I state therefore the facts of the case to you.
There are two parties applying for the Post Office – one is Mr.. Webb at Middleton very distant from Freshwater Bay - & the whole weight & amount of correspondence in the parish of Freshwater is centred within a few yards of this Bay – Mr Tennyson’s correspondence is very large as you know & my correspondence averages 300 letters every month, my fortnightly correspondence to Ceylon being about 10s to 12s every month. This I tell you to convince you that it is important to us to have a central and convenient Post Office.
Mr Orchard the other man who applies is at the very foot of Mr Tennyson’s Park close also to me and close also to the two large hotels close also to the lodging houses at the Bay & Mr Tennyson himself & I& the landlords of the two hotels all signed a paper to request that Mr Orchard of Freshwater might be appointed Postmaster as he is a very respectable& businesslike man he has a separate room & hall at Alexandra House fitted for the reception of letters & his locality is the most desirable. Sir John Simeon writes to me he would surely have recommended Mr Orchard had he known our desire.
Hoping you will take all this into consideration & favour me with a reply,
I remain dear Sir,
Julia Margaret Cameron
Jan 16th 1870
The "very respectable & businesslike" William Thomas Orchard was duly appointed as the first postmaster in Freshwater Bay and the post office remained part of the business for the next 83 years.