The world’s oldest post office has been saved – by a former stamp collector
- The couple returned to Scotland from Florida to take over management of the 311-year-old business.
- A popular tourist attraction has seen people from all over the world arrive to have their letters marked with a special stamp reading: “The World’s Oldest Post Office”.
THE world’s oldest post office has been saved, ending fears it will have to close after more than 300 years.
The new owners, Barry and Mary Ford, announced that they were taking over the Sanquhar Post Office, which opened in 1712.
The successful end of the long search for a new postmaster means the historic site will retain its distinction – and the doors of this 311-year-old institution will remain open.
In recent years it has become an unlikely tourist attraction for stamp collectors, as well as a ‘lifeline’ for elderly people in the community of Sanquhar, Dumfries-shire, who rely on it for banking.
Tourists came from all over the world to visit and had their letters stamped “The World’s Oldest Post Office”.
Barry Ford and his wife Mary took over the world’s oldest post office in Sanquhar
But fears arose for its future when former postmaster Dr Manzoor Alam announced plans to retire in 2019.
He had run it with his wife Nazra since 2015 but died last November.
And although she has kept it running ever since, she said she wanted to return to the Midlands to be closer to family.
Its closure would have seen the “oldest” title granted to a branch in Stockholm, Sweden, opened in 1720.
But Mr and Mrs Ford are now only the 17th owners in its long history – and said they were drawn to the site after discovering its old family ties to the area.
Ms Ford, 57, from Motherwell, Lanarkshire, researched her family tree after finding a pair of Sanquhar-patterned gloves while going through her late mother’s belongings.
It revealed family ties to the nearby town of Muirkirk and Mr Ford said learning the position was vacant was “fate”.
They were living in Florida at the time.
Mr Ford, 60, a former RAF serviceman from Lincolnshire, said: “I was an avid stamp collector as a child and finding out that Mary’s ancestors were from the area was destiny.
“Mary and I are very excited and honored to serve this community and we also look forward to welcoming tourists from here and abroad who come to visit Sanquhar.”
The Post Office had already bounced back from the brink of closure in 2015, when it was taken over by Dr Alam and his wife Nazra.
It is officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the first in the world.
Speaking as they announced their impending departure, Nazra said: “It breaks my heart but I have to do what I have to do.
Sanquhar Post Office has been open for 311 years
“If my health was better I would continue but I have to stop this now – it’s really sad.”
“It has served the community well. It would be great if we could find a buyer.
“I would hate to think it’s going to close down and become a supermarket or something.”
The branch has been put on the market for £275,000 and includes a three-bedroom cottage.
The post office is popular for its banking service, as Sanquhar, which has only around 2,000 residents, has only one bank – after the town’s RBS closed in 2014.
The branch is also an attraction for tourists, postal enthusiasts and stamp collectors, who want to have their letters hand-stamped at the world’s oldest post office.
A Post Office spokesperson said: “We are proud of the heritage of Sanquhar Post Office and are committed to preserving it into the future. »