From Stamps of the World
Weston-super-Mare postmarks and postal history
Before 1805 the tiny fishing village of Weston-super-Mare had no official post. A branch post was then established on the Bristol – Axbridge ride for a foot messenger from Wrington to Worle (see Cross PP map Right) on 3 days a week. Receiving houses were set up at Banwell and Worle by 1816 and at Weston itself by 1817, when it became a 5th Clause Post under Bristol. It is not known whether any marks were used during the period before 1826 when Weston became part of the Bristol Penny Post and used the No. 28 Receiving House handstamp for use from 26th April. At the end of September 1827 Weston was transferred to the new Cross Penny Post system. Cross was situated conveniently on the crossroads of the then new Bristol – Bridgwater coach route and the Weston – Wells road. A new handstamp No. 2 was issued in 1829 which was used until 1840 although the old one can still be found.
In 1840 Weston was issued with a standard Maltese Cross and a 30mm dated double arc handstamp with serif letters which was superseded in 1850 by a smaller one with sans-serif letters. This is known in black, yellow, blue and a greenish grey.
The number 871 was allocated in the first list of 1844 and was first used as a horizontal oval with 4HOS in black or blue. In 1849 a 3HOS version was released. Vertical ovals were issued with 3VOS in 1872, 1877 and 1879 but these are extremely rare. Locally made wooden versions with 3VOS, 2VOS and even 1VOS are known but dated examples are not recorded according to Parmenter (but see my 1900 parcel post label). Duplexes were issued in various formats, first sideways, upright with circular and oval numerals, these 4VOD and later 3VOD. Collection time was originally shown by time codes with letters from B through L and Z. Whether all letters were used on all duplexes I do not know! On changing to times in clear there were apparently 2 morning times (630AM and 1030AM) and several afternoon collections (from 1215PM until 1015PM).
Squared circles were also used for a short time (1881-1885). There is just the one type but again with time-codes. Various circular datestamps were in use from 1861, often for forwarding or other non-standard use. There are single and double circles in different formats, the double circles having arcs and cross pattees at base. A version with thinner arcs has been reported but I have not seen it. The correct way of writing the town name is with hyphens but some stamps were also without. Large skeleton postmarks were in use in 1906, again with time-codes. Registered oval postmarks were used as were undated circular parcel post stamps. There was also a dated PP circular stamp which can be found. Triangular dies are known with 871, A871, B871 and WM for printed papers etc.
As Weston was still a fairly small town none of the various machine trials were carried out here. Continuous Krags with straight and wavy lines were used as were various single impression Internationals.
In the early days of slogan postmarks Weston took part but I do not have an overview of which ones are available. I just show the ones I have. There were quite a number of local postmarks used at individual offices when accepting post there and also for parts of the town or its suburbs. In modern times the 1970’s show the attempt to bring Weston into the new county of Avon which was strongly opposed locally. Somerset, Somerset A, Somerset B. North Somerset, Avon, Avon A and Avon B are all to be found within the postmarks used during that time. In the meantime, Weston seems to have disappeared completely from the postmarks, replaced by Bristol…Taunton.
Early in the 19th century, Weston was a small village of about 30 houses, located behind a line of sand dunes fronting the sea, which had been created as an early sea wall after the Bristol Channel floods of 1607. The Pigott family of Brockley, who were the local Lords of the Manor, had a summer residence at Grove House. Weston owes its growth and prosperity to the Victorian era boom in seaside holidays. Construction of the first hotel in the village started in 1808; it was called "Reeves" (now the Royal Hotel). Along with nearby Burnham-on-Sea, Weston benefited from proximity to Bristol, Bath and South Wales. The first attempt at an artificial harbour was made in the late 1820s at the islet of Knightstone and a slipway built from Anchor Head towards Birnbeck Island. Large areas of land were released for development from the 1850s onwards. Large detached villas, for the middle classes, were built on the southern slopes of Worlebury Hill. Semi-detached and terraced housing was built on the low "moorland" behind the sea front in an area known as South Ward. Many of these houses have now been converted into bedsits. Most of the houses built in the Victorian era are built from stone and feature details made from Bath Stone, influenced by local architect Hans Price. In 1885, the first transatlantic telegraph cable of the Commercial Cable Company was brought ashore and the company started a long association with the town, ending in 1962. Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless telegraphy, successfully transmitted radio signals across the Bristol Channel in the spring of 1897, from Penarth (near Cardiff) to Brean Down (just south west of Weston, on the other side of the River Axe). A second railway, the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway, opened on 1 December 1897, connecting Weston to Clevedon. The terminus station was at Ashcombe Road. The railway was extended to Portishead on 7 August 1907 but was closed in 1940.
Weston-super-Mare was allocated the 871 Post office numeral.
Provincial Mail coaches serving Weston-super-Mare.
The Provincial Stage Coach services ran from Bristol to Weston with coaches serving the town. Coach 217 The Sovereign ran from The Bush Coach House on Corn Street Bristol to Bourton - Backwell and Cleave daily leaving at 9am.*
Coach 218 The Hope ran the same route on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday leaving at 4pm for Weston.*
Coach 223 ran from The Three Queens on Thomas Street, Bristol to Banwell daily, it continued to Axminster, Cross, and Sidcot on a Tuesday Thursday and Saturday.*
Coach 226 ran from The Swan Coach House, Bristol to Weston 4 times a week.*
* Cary's New Itinerary or an accurate delineation of the Great Roads both Direct and Cross throughout England & Wales. 1815 (14th Ed. c.1836)