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How Rowland Hill reformed Great Britain's postal system in the 19th century, making senders, not recipients, pay for postage and introducing affordable stamps.

Rowland Hill was annoyed with Great Britain’s expensive and inefficient postal service, so he decided to invent a better system. His ideas proved so popular, the government agreed to put him in charge. Hill made senders, not recipients, pay for postage. And he sold stamps for an affordable sum, convinced that more people would use the postal service if it were cheaper. He was right: in 1840, as Tim Harford explains, the first year of 'penny post', the number of letters sent more than doubled – with consequences that still hold lessons for today.

Producer: Ben Crighton
Editor: Richard Vadon

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14 minutes


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