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Date: 11/05/13

The Last Post

Photo of a village post office

This is Kirkham House on High Street.

However, no-one in the village has ever to my knowledge referred to it as 'Kirkham House'. It has always been 'The Post Office'. It has been the post office here for the whole of my life, as far as I'm aware. I remember being taken into it as a small child; it was quite a dark place, and would have seemed quite forbidding but for the large jars of sweets of various enticing kinds ranged behind one section of the counter.

For this was not merely a place where people went to buy stamps or their television licences, or where the elderly of the community would come and pick up their pensions of a Thursday, or where people such as me would, in the first wave of Thatcherite economics, cash our dole Giros; other things were sold there too. In addition to the sweets, there were greetings cards, tobacco, bread, milk, newspapers, and so on. It was the last vestiges of a general store in the whole of the bottom end of the village after the demise of Pryce Davies' Gwalia Stores, the Co-op, Colenso's, Vera's, and Gough's and Simms' paper shops.

I remember Fred Jones as the sub-postmaster here for many years and then, after he retired some thirty years ago, along came Bernard Winstanley and his family. Bernard has now, understandably, deemed it time to retire in his turn and, as they live over (and behind) the shop, that meant that the post office effectively had to go with it. It closed for the last time at lunchtime last Wednesday. By the next day, all the signage that you see on the photo above (a photo which was taken as recently as last Saturday) had already gone. I don't know if the CCTV cameras - installed after at least two attempts at armed robbery in recent years by gangs of Merseyside- and Deeside-based bandits - have gone yet, but they will soon enough I expect.

Another shopkeeper elsewhere in the village expressed an interest in transferring the business to his premises but, from what I can understand, the acolytes of Manageria, Goddess of Needless Obstructions have placed so many obstacles in his way that nothing has been - nor is likely to be - sorted out. And so, a village of some three thousand people has no post office for the foreseeable future. Nor does it have a postbox in the middle of the village any more, as this notice on the front of what we are now going to have to start calling 'Kirkham House' (although if past form is any guide, it'll be called 'The Post Office' for at least another decade) can attest:

Notice advising of the closure of a postbox

As my life wears on, I have now run out of fingers to count the number of shops we have lost in this village in my time. I suppose there is no progress, only change and if you don't use it, you'll lose it. Still and all, Wednesday the eighth of May was a sad day. I think it only right to thank Bernard, his family and staff for being there for us for so long, and to wish them all the best of luck.