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New Post Office Open

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 30th August, 1940, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Human Touches At New Post Office
Fine Premises at Rushden - Partial Protection Against Bombs

In the sorting office
In the sorting office
Rushden’s new post office, opened to the public on Monday, looks ahead 20 years in its capacity to handle an expansion of business. It also provides against more immediate problems, for a portion of the upper floor has been strengthened with a concrete slab through which, it is said, a bomb could not penetrate.
War conditions ruled out a formal opening, but a few visitors, headed by the Chairman of the Council (Mr. J. Allen, J.P.), inspected the premises on Monday afternoon. They soon realised that the new building, though less ornate than the one now left deserted a few yards away, is much larger and offers more convenience on both sides of the counter. The customer even sits down to write his telegram.

Like many other post offices, Rushden’s is designed in a modern rendering of the Georgian style and “carried out with due regard to the amenities of the district and the traditions of the neighbourhood.” Multi-coloured facing bricks with stone dressings have been used for the unobtrusive exterior.

The public office is 24 feet square, which means, in comparison with the old office, a longer counter, more space behind it, and much more room on the public side, where the row of chairs and the writing stall built at chair height proclaim the G.P.O. in its most human mood.

Improved Ideas

One of the modern touches about the green-topped counter is the building-in of the parcels weighing machine so that the platform is all but flush with the surface. There isn’t much lifting to do.

Parcels and packets go quickly out of sight down chutes, and telegrams disappear through a hatch. There is no need to worry about the further progress of the telegram, for a bell rings automatically when the hatch is opened, and someone has to pay attention.

The maddening spectacle of a lady clerk sucking a pencil and ignoring a queue of customers is now, it appears, a thing of the past. The girl behaving so heartlessly – so it seemed – in the old office was balancing her accounts. She was really off duty, but had no place of seclusion in which to check her takings. In the new office she merely removes the loose inner shell of her own metal stamp drawer and carries it off – cash and everything – into a quiet balance room. All being O.K., as usual, she slides her drawer into her own compartment of the big safe and locks it up with her own exclusive key – all this without a single customer having soured his soul.

Another point about the public office is the excellent lighting. The floor is laid in terrazzo work and the walls are oak panelled.

Staff Comfort

The telegram room is pleasant but unimpressive, because the only apparatus required is a telephone. Telegrams in and out of Rushden are merely spoken between Rushden and Northampton.

Behind the telegram room is one for the messenger boys. The post-master’s room is a pleasant place within handy reach of the public office, and the strong room has some interesting features.

The largest department is the sorting office, a fine room 50 by 30 feet with roof lighting and giving ample space for the new equipment which is to be installed as soon as possible. At present the sorting racks in use are those transferred from the old office. The stamp cancelling machine can postmark and count letters at the rate of 450 a minute.

Laid with Maplewood flooring, the sorting office is served by a raised loading bank which is covered by a glass canopy.

Part of the ground floor is devoted to rooms for the male staff – retiring rooms for postmen and sorting clerks, an A.R.P. refuge, complete with telephone, and even a kitchen. Postal staffs eat many meals on the premises.

The large yard is flanked with sheds for cycles and handcarts and rooms for the use of post engineers. A garage is also provided for.

Two public telephone boxes – one equipped and one empty – are built-in near the main entrance.

Scope of Business

Central heating by radiators and pipes goes out from the big basement, which also contains the apparatus for a constant hot water supply to the domestic departments.

Part of the building is of two storeys, and the upper floor contains “new” and “old” stores, (for documents which have to be kept up to 20 years), besides a set of rooms – again including a kitchen – for the lady employees. There are such thoughtful details as boot racks, and each member of the staff has a personal locker.

The inspecting party on Monday included the Council Chairman and Mrs. Allen, Mr. W. L. Beetenson (Clerk of the Council) and Mrs. Beetenson, Mr. R. W. Clark (head postmaster, Wellingborough) and Mrs. Clark, Mr. P. R. Wilkins (Wellingborough post office) and Mrs. Wilkins, Mr. R. C. Henderson, from H.M. Office of Works, Mr. H. J. O’Connor (clerk of the works), Mr. E. H. Forrester (formerly postmaster at Rushden, now retired) and Mrs. Forrester, Mr. H. J. Golesworthy (acting postmaster for Rushden) and Mrs. Golesworthy.

Receiving the visitors, Mr. Clark surveyed the business done at the Rushden post office during 1939:

2,031,432 letters and 123,500 parcels posted;
On the loading platform
On the loading platform behind the sorting office
2,317,900 letters and 120,588 parcels delivered;
£8,158 postage stamps sold;
£31,418 insurance stamps sold;
14,851 Army and Navy allowances paid;
29,479 old age pensions paid;
77,948 postal orders issued;
27,570 postal orders paid;
1,374,000 telephone calls dealt with;
2,973 wireless licences issued;
6,246 telegrams sent;
7,739 telegrams received;
£9,000 savings certificates issued;
6,560 savings bank transactions;
2,651 money orders issued;
1,617 money orders paid;

The Nerve Centre

Mr. Clark described the post office as a “nerve centre.” The old building, he said, had become entirely inadequate, but the new one was worthy of the importance of the town.

Councillor Allen said the growth of postal business at Rushden must have been marvellous during the last 40 or 50 years. He was sure the new building was wanted, and the public would greatly appreciate the postal authorities having at last awakened to the fact that Rushden was a vastly growing town and that the extent of the business warranted a better office than they had had in the past. The populace would be delighted with the fine building and postal service now placed at its disposal.

The postal officials afterwards pointed out the features of the building, and Mr. Golesworthy, who assumed local charge last October, explained many details of organisation. After tea had been served Mr. Allen thanked the head postmaster and the Rushden staff for their courtesy and hospitality.

Messrs. H. C. Janes, of Luton, were the general contractors for the building. Mr. A. Bulloch, of H.M.O.W. was the architect in charge of the building works, and Mr. W. H. Hooson, also of H.M.O.W., was engineer in charge of the heating installation.

Evening Telegraph, 30th August 1940

First Customers
Two school­boys were waiting on the doorstep when Mr. H. J. Golesworthy (acting postmaster) unlocked the new post office at 8.30 on Monday morning, and were the first customers for stamps.

The first parcel was handed in shortly afterwards by Mrs. Goosey, of Carnegie-street. 

The New Post Office opened in 1940 The rear offices
A photograph of the Post Office building in 2008 and the side view visible when Cave's Factory was demolished.

The Old Post Office building in central High Street at the junction with College Street was built about 1903. The Rose and Crown is on the opposite corner. The building is little changed but the carved Royal Crest on the wall above the entrance has been erased. It became the Midland Bank after the New Post Office was opened, and a clock was fixed in the window above the doorway. It is now HSBC bank.

1931 Post Office Regulations
Inland Letters—Not exceeding 20oz., 1½d.; for each additional 2oz., ½d.
An inland letter must not exceed the dimensions of 24in. in length, lain, in width, and 12in. in depth.
Post-Cards—1d.; reply post-cards 2d.
Book Post—Inland Printed Paper Rate—For each 2oz., ½d. up to 2lb.
The Registration of any Inland letter, newspaper, or other packet, is 3d., and all letters containing coin, posted without registration, will be charged on delivery with a registration fee of 6d., in addition to the ordinary postage.
Registered Letter Envelopes are sold at all Post Offices, and by Rural Messengers, according to size, from 5d. To 6½d. each. These registered letter envelopes are available for forwarding Foreign registered letters as well as Inland letters.
Newspapers registered at the G.P.O. and published at intervals not exceeding seven days, 1d. for 6oz. and ½d. for every additional 6oz. up to 2lb.
Inland Parcel Post—Not exceeding 2lb. 6d.; not exceeding 5lb. 9d.; not exceeding 81b. 1s.; not exceeding 11lb. 1s. 3d. Length, 3ft. 6in.; length and girth combined, 6ft.
Colonial Letter Postage—To British possessions generally, 1½d. per oz. and 1d. for each additional oz.
Foreign Letter Postage—To countries within the Postal Union, 2½d. for the first oz. and 1½d. for each subsequent oz. To U.S.A., 1½d. per oz.
Foreign Post-Cards—1½d.
Foreign Book Post—Printed Papers—½d. per 2oz.
Commercial Papers for Abroad—2½d. for first 10 oz.
Foreign Parcel Post—A Parcel Post service has been established between the United Kingdom and the countries of the Continent of Europe and the British Colonies and Foreign Possessions generally. For rates and other conditions, see the Post Office Guide, published quarterly.
Inland Telegrams—For twelve words or less, 1s., and one penny per word afterwards. Addresses will be charged for.
Money Orders (Inland)—For sums not exceeding £3, 4d.; above £3 and not exceeding £10, 6d.
Postal Orders issued for 6d. to 2s. 6d., 1d.; 3s. and up to 15s., at a cost of l½d. each ; and from 15s. 6d. to 21s. at a cost of 2d. each.
Post Office Savings Banks are established at every Money Order Office for the receipt and repayment of money. Interest is allowed at the rate of 2½ per cent, for every complete pound.

click here to read about the Royal Mail

Mr. E. H. Forrester
The Rushden Echo and Argus, 26th July, 1940, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Postmaster Retires - Ill Health Ends Mr. E. H. Forrester’s Local Appointment

Owing to ill health, Rushden’s postmaster, Mr. E. H. Forrester has been compelled to retire, his services being terminated on Monday. He had been in indifferent health since last October.

Mr. Forrester, who succeeded Mr. C. H. Cunnington when the latter left for Frome, came to Rushden in September, 1937, after eight years as postmaster of St. Ives, Huntingdonshire.

He had a long career in the Postal Service, starting at the very beginning as a messenger boy at Hinckley in 1897. He afterwards became an unpaid learner, and went to Nuneaton as sorting clerk and telegraphist in 1901. After six years’ service there Mr. Forrester was transferred to Nottingham, and returned in 1920 to Hinckley, where, after another four years, he was appointed second-in-command. He was appointed to the postmastership of St. Ives in February, 1929.

During the Great War Mr. Forrester served in the Royal Engineers, Signal Section, and saw service in Egypt, Palestine and Syria.

Until the appointment of a new postmaster, Mr. H. J. Golesworthy, the well-known bowls player, is carrying out the necessary duties.

Rushden Echo, 20th February 1948, transcribed by Kay Collins

No Silver – No Gas

The shortage of silver was mentioned at Rushden Trades Council on Tuesday when a member complained about the difficulty of finding coins for gas meters.

Rushden banks report that the situation has not changed but most are just managing to carry on giving normal supplies.

Mr. O. A. H. Muxlow, of the Midland Bank commented: “We have plenty of silver. There is no shortage as fare as the Midland Bank is concerned”. He agreed, however, that there were difficulties in some places and said that he believed they were due to hoarding.

Mr. G. S. Gill, the Rushden Postmaster, told us: “So far, we have had no serious difficulty and I have been able to make the normal payments”.

Pensioners, he said, were always asked if they had any change, and were getting used to the idea.

“If things get really bad, we shall simply have to give stamps as change”, he added, “but we should not press them on anyone”.

The Rushden Echo, 2nd February 1962, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Ultra-Modern Look for Town’s Post Office

Rushden is well on the way towards getting an ultra-modern post office. The old writing desks which lined the wall opposite the counter have been taken out during the past week and will be replaced eventually by new ones which will be fitted along the whole length of the wall.

However, before the desks are renewed a suspended ceiling, made of special acoustic tiles, is to be constructed, but due to a delay in receiving equipment, work cannot begin immediately on it.

The panelling and paintwork on the walls is also to receive treatment, and although the complete colour scheme is not yet available the wall behind the counter is to be painted white, and brighter colours, such as purple and tangerine, will probably be used in small quantities.

The scheme is to be worked out by a colour consultant of the Ministry of Works.


Mr. J. G. Phillips, head postmaster at Wellingborough, told an “Echo” reporter that the scheme would be “bold and imaginative” and by no means “stereotyped.”

The counter itself is to have a new top fitted and the wire mesh screen is to be replaced by one of glass. The floor surface will also take on a new look, with shining new lino. At present electric wiring is being completed before work on the ceiling begins.

The modernisation programme – no date has been given for its completion – will be arranged to end on a weekend, and when the office opens on the following Monday morning, service will also be streamlined.

Together with the modernisation plan, the Post Office is to bring an “all-purpose service” scheme into operation.

The scheme means that each clerk will be able to deal with anything the customer may ask for, instead of having to send a customer to the appropriate “hatch.”

Special Job

Rushden’s postmaster, Mr. F. Ford, said that the public did not understand that at present each clerk had his own special job at the counter. And while there might be a queue for, say stamps, the clerk dealing with pensions, who perhaps, had no one to serve, could not help the other to sell the stamps.

The new scheme, said Mr. Ford, would do away with this system and the complaints which go with it.

Partly because the introduction of the scheme will mean more work for the clerks after the office is officially closed, the time of closing will be put forward from the present 6.30 p.m. to six o’clock.

In about 1995, the Post Office counter service moved into the Budgen's supermarket store.
It is inside the Wilkinson's store today (2009). The old sorting office is still being used.

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