HISTORY OF THE POSTAL SERVICE IN THE PARISH OF WHITWELL.
The records show that the "Post Office" was first established in Whitwell around 1851. Joseph Swift was the first Postmaster/Postman although his father, Richard Swift, of the same address, may have been involved at an early stage in the Post Office's establishment. The mail arrived at the premises of Joseph Swift by "Gig Mail" from Chesterfield at 9.00 a.m and departed, weather permitting at 4.30 p.m. daily.
The original Whitwell Post Office was located at the home of Joseph Swift on Scotland Lane (now Scotland Street). Newer brickwork in the wall of the building near the junction of Portland Street and Scotland Street is still noticeable were once the Post Box was fixed. Also, in the 1851 census, a Charles Taylor is recorded as living in the area, and he is recorded as a "Letter Carrier".
The late Miss May Lowe, formerly of Whitwell, whose items relating to aspects of Whitwell's Local History were a regular feature in the Parish Magazine for many years, refers to No. 38 High Street, Whitwell, being the Post Office and also the residence of Joseph Swift. In Kelly's Trade Directory for 1864 the Post Office is recorded as "Post and Money Order Office" and the Post is now arriving from Chesterfield by "Mail” as opposed to "Gig Mail" (see the year 1899). It does appear that a George Godley followed Joseph Swift as Postmaster.
This property, 38 High Street, was one of the pair of houses that once stood on the roadside above "Greenwell Cottage". Mr Thomas Newton and his family lived here for a number of years. Mr. David Newton, son of Thomas, can remember some of the Post Office "fixtures and fittings" still being in the house when the family lived there. The two houses were demolished some years ago. Before their demolition the Post Office had already moved some years earlier to No. 12 High Street, Whitwell, then the home of Thomas Rotherham, Tailor.
Thomas Rotherham is the next recorded Postmaster. Born in 1841, he served his apprenticeship in the Tailoring Trade with William Leggatt (Tailor), Whitwell. He is first mentioned as Postmaster, Draper and Tailor in the census records for 1871, 1881, and 1891, and continues to be mentioned in Trades Directory Records for the early part of the twentieth century.
When Thomas Rotherham took over as Postmaster in 1869 the work was only minimal with only one dispatch and one delivery per day. This work being carried out by one ‘Delivery Man’ who covered Creswell and Whitwell. Mr Rotherham witnessed the population of Whitwell increase from around 1,500 to 5,000. During which time Postal Service’s increased to two deliveries and three dispatches per day and five Delivery Staff; in addition to Telegraphic and Telephonic Communication being provided at the Post Office.
On July 10th. 1911, Thomas Rotherham, celebrated forty‑two years as the Whitwell Postman. In later years he was assisted at the Post Office by a relative (possibly his niece) *Miss Ethel Rose Revill, who later, as Mrs Thorpe, became Postmistress. Mr. Rotherham retired in 1911. He died three years later in 1914 at the age 74.
*Miss Ethel Rose Revell, who married Mr Victor Thorpe (Painter & Decorator), Whitwell, died at the age of 46 in 1930.
Mr Des.Thorpe, son of Victor Thorpe and his second wife, still retains a ‘Door-Knocker’ Post people used when delivering mail before letter boxes became part of door furniture.
The middle years of the nineteenth century saw the range of services available at the local Post Offices increase. Relating to Whitwell Post Office the 1895 Trades Directory records the services of Post, Money Orders, Telegraph Office, and the sale of Savings Bonds, Express Delivery and Annuity and Insurance Office. The "Post‑Town" was still Chesterfield with letters arriving by "mail" at 8.00 a.m. and departing at 4‑45 p.m., on Sundays at 2.00 p.m., Parcel Post at 5.00 p.m. Although the railway arrived at Whitwell in 1875 reference to the post arriving by "mail‑cart" from Chesterfield appears in the 1899 Directory with an additional week‑day despatch time of 7.00 p.m.
More information is available in the 1912 Directory relating to all sections of the Parish of Whitwell, by which time the letters are arriving from Mansfield (one assumes by train) at 7.20 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. and being despatched at 7.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. Sundays dep. 2.00 p.m. Other services available being Money Order Office and Telegraph and Telephonic Express Delivery.
At Hodthorpe the Post Office and Money Order Office received letters from Mansfield at 9.00 a.m. with despatch times of 9.00 a.m. and 6.25 p.m. There was no Sunday delivery and the nearest Telegraph Office was at Whitwell.
In other areas of the Parish ‘Wall Letter Boxes’ were used as follows:
Postmasters/Postmistresses for Whitwell from the time of Joseph Swift to the present.
Hodthorpe Post Office.
House building on a major scale did not commence until after the sinking of Whitwell Colliery in 1890. The first available recorded evidence of the Post Office is in Trade Directories for 1911. The first location being No. 61 King Street at the home and General Store of Henry (Harry). F. Land who was the Postmaster. Mr.Land gave up Post Office duties when his wife became ill, but with his family continued with a General Store at 61 King Street for many years.
The Post Office then became established at its present location 137 Queens Road, Hodthorpe. Miss Lucy Ann Flower succeeded Mr. Land becoming Postmistress at Hodthorpe. Miss Flower married Richard Henry Kinder in 1917 and is still recorded as Postmistress in the 1922 Trades Directories.
After Lucy Ann (Flower) Kinder, Mr. Benjamin Kirk, Junior. became Postmaster at Hodthorpe. Along with the Postal business Mr. Kirk also ran a General Store, Sunday newspaper business, Taxi business, and also sold petrol at 137 Queens Road. For a few years Mr. Kirk was assisted by his sister Francis (who later became Mrs. Hardwick) and then by his family.
Postmasters/Mistresses for Hodthorpe from the time of Mr. H.F.Land to the present time:
The Post Office/General Store at 137 Queens Road, closed at mid-day Thursday 4th April 2002. After a period with no Postal facilities available this service was reopened. Since June 2003 the Postal facilities have been re-established on a more permanent basis at 137 Queens Road by Mr Robert (Bob) Brocklehurst the present owner.
Bakestone Moor Post Office.
It was during 1904/07 that Mrs Kate Blagg bought some land and buildings on
Bakestone Moor. One of the buildings she converted into living accommodation
and shop. The house, on Sandy Lane, Bakestone Moor, now called "The Old Post
Office" is part of the property purchased by Mrs Blagg. But, the original
Bakestone Moor Post Office was in part of the property that faces the main
Bakestone Moor road.
Postmasters/Mistresses for Bakestone Moor from 1933 to 1993.
There has never been a Post Office at Belph. Confusion may have arisen due to the fact that Benjamin Kirk jnr., before he became Postmaster at Hodthorpe, conducted a small business from his home, "Brook Cottage"( now demolished) at Belph. There is a possibility that he may have sold postage stamps. For many years there was a Victorian era Post Box set in the wall at Penny Green Cottages opposite the present Post Box.
THE END OF AN ERA.
The retirement of Mr John Carr, Postmaster at Whitwell Post Office since 1986, brought an end to 132 years of Postal History in Whitwell. The premises of 12 High Street, Whitwell, had been the location of the Post Office since 1869. The Postal facilities for Whitwell are now located in the Cooperative premises on Welbeck Street.
© Jack O Edson 2003.