THERE was a special delivery in West Street last Friday (Jan 25) when Haslemere’s 113-year-old post office closed its doors for a major revamp – with the branch’s service reopening immediately in temporary premises almost opposite.
The historic headquarters will undergo a total refurbishment before re-opening in April as a Post Office Counters service plus a Real English Drinks House (Red-H) bar and off-
Post offices struggle to survive without a parallel trading business and the West Street concept is the brainchild of town residents Douglas Howard and Richard Edwards.
Mr Howard is the new post master and the existing agency staff have been retained. Andrew Robinson is the new post office manager and he will be assisted by Tina Morrell.
Welcoming the start of building work to provide a new lease of life for a key town institution, Haslemere mayor David Round said: “It is great that certainty has been brought to what has been a real concern for many years.
“To say the premises have been run down and neglected would be an understatement – and if the temporary office is anything to go by, we can be confident that once again Haslemere will have a first-class service, with a first-class image we can all be proud of.
“It’s worth noting the first significant change is the branch will be open for service on Saturday afternoons, too.”
It was thanks to ‘people power that the town centre branch in the former Victorian sorting office was spared the axe in June 2017.
Haslemere was threatened with the loss of its historic purpose-built West Street premises unless a permanent post master could be found to take over the lease of the building.
Fortunately, a ‘Save Our Post Office from Closure’ campaign – launched by former town mayor Brian Howard – struck home and Haslemere consortium Red-H Ltd bought the freehold of the building.
Their plan for a multi-purpose use that would secure the future of the town-centre branch was given the green light by Waverley planners last year.
Brian’s son Douglas has trained as a post master to run the service.
“Red-H has fought hard to save the much-needed post office in Haslemere, so the post office counter will be staying and will become an upgraded and unique feature of our establishment,” he said.
“Upgrading and refurbishing this beautiful building to house Red-H, and as an added bonus retaining and enhancing the post office for local people, is something we all feel passionately about.
“It will provide an imaginative addition to Haslemere’s retail mix while also ensuring a post office counter service that is worthy of our great town.”
The Old Bakery in West Street will be the temporary home for Haslemere post office following the closure of the service in its permanent headquarters at 5.30pm on Thursday last week to enable building work to begin.