RESIDENTS of Castledawson have expressed “dismay” that they may lose their post office after 140 or so years.
Speculation is rife that the branch, which has been described as “a central hub of the village,” will close later this year.
Its first “posting establishment” - for the dispatch of telegrams – was run by George Garvin, hotelier, in 1870, according to Castledawson correspondent and resident Ivor Hawe. It was located several yards from the current post office.
Successive ‘postmasters’ have included George Robert Tipping in 1890, and Christina and Jack Swenarton in the late 1940s. Under the Swenartons, the Post Office moved to the opposite side of the street.
Years later, the post office was on the move again, to its present location. Its current postmistress Iris Hamilton (nee Gilmour) has been a familiar face at 49 Main Street for almost 32 years.
The post office was recognised far beyond its rural confines in 1934 – none other than the King himself awarded an Imperial Service Medal to a Mr Samuel Downey upon his retirement as a long-serving postman in the village.
On highlighting the post office’s rich history and alluding to it as part of the fabric of the community, a resident stated: “While we are hopeful of retaining a service in the village, we are greatly saddened that the old building at Main Street will no longer be the post office that we have utilised for so many years.”
A Post Office spokesperson confirmed that post office may indeed be on the move yet again: “We are assessing the interest in running a new Post Office Main in this area, which could result in a relocation of the branch. Any such relocation would be subject to a public consultation.”