So, the Post Office in Sudbury is closing – shock! horror! But, of course, it isn’t closing as such although that makes better headlines. If the proposals go according to plan, it will move across the road about 100 yards away from the present building probably by the end of November. Like many Post Offices these days, it is having to adapt to changes (loss of income and fewer users although the latter doesn’t seem that way when you’re standing in a queue). It will occupy an area at the back of WHSmith’s bookshop on Market Hill.
Sudbury Post Office has a history of moving around the town. It also has a history of sharing retail premises. From about 1870 Joseph Francis Hills was already a Postmaster in premises at 73-74 Friars Street which was shared with his other occupation as watchmaker. [See 1914 photo] You can still see the name Hills high up on the gable end of what had been 74 Friars Street next to the Anchor pub as shown in the photo.
By 1897 the Post Office occupied 3-4 Market Hill (as shown in the 1901 census), what is now Dorothy Perkins. It was the first dedicated Post Office and was run by Postmaster Hills and his staff, several of whom were family members.
In 1912 the new purpose-built Post Office was opened on Station Road. It is now Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall. The Post Office remained in this elegant building for just over 60 years. It was a busy place with constant comings and goings: collection and despatch of mail both locally and further afield – the latter going by train from Sudbury station taken there by horse and cart and by horse-drawn vans to outlying areas.
By 1940 postmen were using motor vans and motorcycle and sidecars.
But by 1974 a new Post Office was deemed necessary. The chosen site was on East Street. To make way for it the Georgian East House was demolished and the present Post Office was built on the site. (Is it any wonder that some of us get very twitchy indeed at the mention of an old building being replaced by a new one…)
So, Sudbury Post Office is returning to Market Hill. This move and sharing premises is simply the latest in an almost 150-year history of the Post Office moving around the town.
The new Post Office will have longer opening hours (including Sundays) and better accessibility. Services and products will remain the same. And, as it’s in a bookshop there will be something to look at while you’re waiting.