The History of Ashwell Post Office

Photo:First Ashwell Post Office opened in 1851 - located in J H Christy shop 1896c

First Ashwell Post Office opened in 1851 - located in J H Christy shop 1896c

Ashwell Museum

Photo:A & C Christy - the Post Office moved to Kirby Manor 1900c

A & C Christy - the Post Office moved to Kirby Manor 1900c

Ashwell Museum

Photo:A & C Christy coal invoices showing telephone No 1 and 4

A & C Christy coal invoices showing telephone No 1 and 4

Janet Chennells

Photo:Royal Mail c1939

Royal Mail c1939

Ashwell Museum

Photo:Post Office 1940c

Post Office 1940c

Ashwell Museum

Photo:Florence (Flo) Worboys BEM deliverying post c1983

Florence (Flo) Worboys BEM deliverying post c1983

Ashwell Museum

Photo:Ashwell Post Office 2000

Ashwell Post Office 2000

Ashwell Museum

Photo:Telephone box next to Kirby Manor where the first Ashwell telephone exchange was located in 1900

Telephone box next to Kirby Manor where the first Ashwell telephone exchange was located in 1900

Ashwell Museum

Photo:Postmistress Maureen Coston - 2000

Postmistress Maureen Coston - 2000

Ashwell Museum

Photo:Buying a stamp

Buying a stamp

Jackie Embury

Photo:Abigail posting her first letter to Mummy and Daddy 2011

Abigail posting her first letter to Mummy and Daddy 2011

Jackie Embury

Photo:Inside the PO shop Jan 2015

Inside the PO shop Jan 2015

Jackie Embury

Photo:The magazine section Jan 2015

The magazine section Jan 2015

Jackie Embury

Photo:The main counter Jan 2015

The main counter Jan 2015

Jackie Embury

Photo:Maureen Coston in action Jan 2015

Maureen Coston in action Jan 2015

Jackie Embury

Photo:Rob Coston ready to serve Jan 2015

Rob Coston ready to serve Jan 2015

Jackie Embury

Photo:Rob Coston Jan 2015

Rob Coston Jan 2015

Jackie Embury

Photo:Maureen and Rob Coston Jan 2015

Maureen and Rob Coston Jan 2015

Jackie Embury

Photo:Rob and Maureen Coston Jan 2015

Rob and Maureen Coston Jan 2015

Jackie Embury

Photo:The very last Ashwell PO transaction 12 30 pm Sat 28 Feb 2015 after 164 years

The very last Ashwell PO transaction 12 30 pm Sat 28 Feb 2015 after 164 years

Jackie Embury

1851 - 2015

By Jackie Embury

The Post Office first came to Ashwell in 1851, it was located in Christy's shop (Ashwell Stores).  The first Postmaster was George William Christy.

When George died in 1874 his son Abraham Hart Christy became Postmaster.  About 1900 Abraham took over Kirby Manor and relocated the Post Office there.

His daughter's Ellen (Nellie) and Ethel were listed as Post Office and Telegram Clerks in 1901.  Nellie continued at the Post Office until the 1940's when it moved further down the High Street.

Mary Radford, Nellie's cousin, also worked in the Post Office/shop during that period.

 Early 1950s: Mr and Mrs Moore

       Later 1950s: Mr and Mrs Proudfoot

       1962-4:  Jim Nicholson

       1964-7: Bill Wood

       1967-71: Michael and Kay Richardson

       1971-6: John Thorpe

       1976-9: Mr and Mrs Payne

       1979-86: Arthur and Betty Harris

       1986-96: Kevin and Marion Morrison

       1996-2015: Rob and Maureen Coston

Maureen and Rob Coston bought the village post office in July 1996 and ran the business for almost 19 years until 1 March 2015 when they retired.  Rob previously worked as an electronics engineer with Radstone and Maureen came from a banking background.

When they bought the business they employed six people, the shop was very busy especially on pension days which were Monday and Thursday.  They sold flowers and plants,  also newspapers and magazines supplied by Byron Searle, stationery, confectionery, toys and acted as an agent for dry-cleaning.

When Byron retired they expanded their stock of newspapers and magazines as there was no longer a paper delivery service in the village. 

After a while Maureen employed Alison Picking who worked with her for many years and was a great asset to the business.  The post office was extremely busy at Christmas with both of them working at great speed and without a break to serve the village, it was great fun with lots of laughs.

Youngsters were employed in the shop on a Saturday and Sunday, they not only helped Rob and Maureen but also gained valuable experience in dealing with the public and the demands of working life.

Later San Carswell joined Maureen in the post office and she was a delight to work with and a help to many.  Sue Densem, whose mother Vera lived in Silver Street, joined a few years ago working in the shop and has also been an invaluable help.  Gwen Pack worked in the shop for many years and could always be relied on to tell Maureen and Rob who was who and who was related to whom!

Rob extended the shop and put in a modern post office counter continuing to build the business up until the Post Office Ltd’s network transformation programme came in.  Changes in shopping habits with the advent of the internet and the rise of Tesco also adversely affected their trade. 

The Government Policy of taking work away from post office counters and getting rid of traditional offices was unfortunately the death knell for Ashwell Post Office, as it has for hundreds of other traditional post offices all over the UK;  it was with much sadness that they closed their doors on 1 March 2015.

Maureen was the last Postmaster to serve Ashwell, had the post office moved to another village retailer they would have been classed as an “Operator” and not a “Postmaster” – the end of an era spanning 164 years from George W Christy the first Postmaster in 1851.

PS  The last Ashwell Post Office transaction was at 12 30 pm on Saturday  28 February 2015 after 164 years.  This transaction was for a first and second class stamp which Maureen cancelled with the PO stamp attaching it to the counter receipt, a copy of which is included at the end of the photos in this article; the original will be held by Ashwell Museum.

 

 

 

 

This page was added on 14/06/2012.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.