Englefield History

The Post Office

 

A sub-Post office was opened in Englefield in 1895 in a newly-constructed annex to the house of Club Caretaker, who also became the sub-Postmaster.  Local mail deliveries were made from the Englefield post office until the Second World War. By 1968 post office services were moved to the village shop but were withdrawn in 2008.

 

Before the Post Office was opened there was a post box in the high wall surrounding the Gardens. This was emptied at seven o’clock each evening and the children were sent to wait for the postman who sold them stamps. The postman had a pony pulling a red cart and came through the park from Bradfield by way of the Bradfield Lodge gates. A new post box was incorporated into the side wall of the Post Office when it was built.

 

It was the decision of the Post Office authorities that the post office should be at the Club rather than the shop and a small building was constructed for the purpose; this is the left-hand square single-storey extension on the front of the caretaker’s house when viewed from the road. This is very small and inside was divided across the middle by a counter so there was only room for about two customers at a time.

 

In 1930 Mr Claydon retired as the Club caretaker and sub-Postmaster and Mr WG Cook was offered the job of sub-Postmaster as well as that of Club Steward on his retirement from the Army. The letter offering him the job came from Mr Hopley, the Secretary of the Club, who became a great friend.

 

For a long time the Post Office had one of only four telephones in the village (the others were Englefield House, the Rectory and the Clerk of the Works) so it was not unusual for the family to be knocked-up in the middle of night to phone for the doctor. The telephone number was initally Theale 66, changed to 366 in the 1960s.

 

In those days Post Office duties began at 6 am with the arrival of the mail from Reading. This had to be sorted into the rounds ready for the postman, if there was one. If not, the family had to make the deliveries and Mr Cook would go one way and his son James the other. The rounds extended to Parker’s Corner, Bostock Lodges, Daintylands, Beenham Lane, Englefield House and Wimbleton’s one way and the Street, Chalkpit Farm and Tidmarsh Moors the other. The second delivery would arrive at 1130 and this would be delivered by Mr Cook’s elder daughter Renee. This was a shorter round comprising the Street, North Street, Blossom Lane and Blossom End. This was later taken on by the younger daughter Emily after Renee started work as a children’s nurse.

 

The Post Office opened for business at 8 am and for many years stayed open until 7 at night. After closing, all the letters had to be stamped and put, in neatly-tied bundles, into the mail bag. The bag was then tied with string and the knot sealed with sealing-wax and stamped with a special seal. The mail van from Reading came at 7.30 and after cashing-up the day was over - provided there was no function at the Club to cater for.

 

In 1930 when Mr Cook took over from Mr Claydon at both the Club and Post Office the salary for the sub-Postmaster was about £40-£45 per year and in 1961 had risen to £231 5s. This was based on a formula calculated from a triennial return of business conducted and that for 1960 shows that then pension payments formed a large part of the business but much larger were the sales of Postal Orders and National Insurance Stamps - all declining or completely lost business these days.

© 2019 Richard J Smith

Englefield History

Englefield History
Englefield History

Englefield History