Ralph Allen

1694 -- 1764

Ralph Allen

English philanthropist. A deputy postmaster, he made a fortune by improving postal routes in England.

The building of Bath was made possible through the enterprise of this key figure, whose stone mines provided the soft yellow limestone for which the city is famous.

Ralph Allen came to Bath at the age of 19 and grew rich managing the country's cross-post services. He later bought the stone mines of Combe Down and invested in a number of local enterprises, including the Avon navigation, which itself aided the building of Bath as tiles, slate and other materials could be easily brought in from the Bristol docks.

Wanting to advertise the unique quality of his quarried limestone, he commission John Wood to build him a country house on his Prior Park estate, and being a shrew politician dominated civic affairs by becoming mayor several times.