Monday 19 September 2016

Sanquhar Post Office

While in Scotland last week we called at Sanquhar (pronounced SANK-er) Post Office, in Dumfries and Galloway  Established in 1712 it is said to be the oldest continuously operating post office in the world. 

Dr Manzoor Alam, 73, a postal historian and stamp collector from Birmingham, took over as postmaster in July 2015 when the post office came up for sale.

We went inside and chatted to the postmaster’s very pleasant wife and daughter.

The post office was refurbished in 1997.  To celebrate the fact the Royal Mail presented it with a replica Victorian Penfold pillar box.

'...The 1711 Act also empowered the establishment of Cross Posts, services between various towns, not on the main route to Edinburgh or London, and Bye Posts, which served as feeders to and from the Post Towns.
The men who carried the mail on foot were known as runners and they received fixed payments that, in many cases, were substantially greater than the salaries of the postmasters – an interesting reflection of relative values.
One of the earliest Cross Posts that was established was between Dumfries and Ayr, up the Nith Valley via Sanquhar ( pronunciation : SANK-er) and Cumnock.
This service was apparently established in 1712 and it would have been at this time that the present post office in Sanquhar started its long career as a change-house, where the runners rested and were refreshed, and exchanged mailbags before starting on their respective return journeys back to Dumfries or on to the next stage at Cumnock.'

Source: "Sanquhar Post Office, The Oldest Working Post Office in the World" (2005) by Ken Thompson, owner and manager of the Sanquhar post office for 17 years.  I bought a copy of this book at the Post Office and it is quite fascinating.

Near the post office is this blue plaque.

 This is Sanquhar’s 18th Century Tolbooth, now a museum. 


  1. What a very special claim to fame they have! Thank you for sharing your adventure in Sanquhar.

  2. I think it was last year after on of my hospital visits to Ayr that I decided to turn right out of the hospital instead of left and drove down the 'old roads' to The Border instead of going over to the M74 and stopped in Sanquhar opposite the post office for fuel for the car and for me. Looking back I assumed that I had posted about the Post Office but apparently not. I'm glad that you've done so because you have made it so much more interesting than I would have done.

  3. Very very interesting indeed, one doesn't expect to learn facts like these while passing a building or reading a tourist guide. Thank you for that. I've been to a mail art exhibition here in Alexandrov in Russia lately, and it looks like some great mail art could be sent from this particular post office as well ;-)

  4. This must have been especially interesting for you as you have a liking for "all things mail", don't you! But I bet everyone would have found something of interest in this particular post office, and I think if the current postmaster would write a book about his life and how it has changed since 2015, it would make a very good read.

  5. Loved this post on The World's Oldest Working Post Office....fascinating story.

  6. its actually currently up for sale so a very great opportunity to get hold of some great history!


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