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Headington’s Post Offices


Headington’s first post office: Old High Street (premises uncertain) (1840s–1874)

Headington’s first post office opened in the 1840s somewhere in Old High Street. It is the third house listed in the 1851 census after Mather's Farm and then the Black Boy, so possibly it was at the south-west end of the street. At this time it was the sole post office in Headington, so the villagers of Quarry (and then from the 1850s also those of New Headington) had to trek here to purchase their stamps. James Waring (who was also the Master of the Free School in Quarry) is listed in directories as sub-postmaster in Old High Street in 1847, and as postmaster thereafter.

The auction of the freehold of Waring's property was advertised in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 28 June 1856 as follows: “The HOUSE now used as the Post Office, in the occupation of Mr. Waring, which contains four rooms and bakehouse, with large oven.”

It remained the post office after the sale, His daughter Jane Waring was listed as a postmistress in the 1861 census, and is seems likely that as he became older she and subsequently other younger people actually did most of the work. James Waring was officially the postmaster, however, and in Webster's Directory for 1869 he is listed as “Post Office, Waring J. postmaster and school for little children”. He is last listed as postmaster in in Mercer & Crocker's Directory of Oxfordshire for 1874, the year he died at the age of 88. He was buried in St Andrew's churchyard on 19 May 1874, and an impressive gravestone was placed in St Andrew’s churchyard by “some of the inhabitants of Headington” as a sign of their esteem and gratitude to him.


Headington’s second post office: 58 Old High Street (1874–1915)

From 1874 James Rudd, originally a coachman servant, ran Headington's post office in his grocer’s shop on the corner of Old High Street and St  Andrew’s Road (below).

Old High Street Post OfficeOld Headington post office: postcard supplied by Ian Garrett

He is listed in Shrimpton's Oxford Directory for 1875, and the Oxford City and Suburban Directory for 1876 lists: “Post Office and Money Order Office, Rudd J. grocer and Postmaster”.

James Rudd died at the age of 40 in 1883, and his widow Mary Ann became grocer and postmistress here. By the time of the 1891 census her daughter Edith was the telegraphist there and her daughter Jessie an assistant; and by 1901 her assistant was her son Harold Edmund Rudd. By the time of the 1911 census Harold was married and running the grocer’s shop and post office himself.

From the 1880s each of the three villages of Headington had its own post office. This one in Old Headington that originally served the whole area was the first of the three to close when in 1915 Headington's first central post office, which could offer modern facilities such as the telegraph, opened. Harold Edmund Rudd was kept on as sub-postmaster at the new building.

The old Post Office depot behind 58 Old High Street was demolished in 2016 and a new extension built.


Headington's first London Road Post Office (1915–1934)

Headington’s first central Post Office opened in 1915 in a purpose-built office with accommodation above on the south-west corner of Windmill Road; and there was a fine semi-detached house to the west.

Post Office in 1915Headington Post Office and adjoining house on the corner of Windmill Road in 1915. Note the telegraph pole outside. They were demolished in the 1980s to make was for the present Caffè Nero block.

Headington postmark

This new post office was described in directories as a “Post and Money Order Office, Telegraph Office, Savings Bank, Public Telephone & Express Delivery & Annuity & Insurance Office.” It remained in this building on the corner of Windmill Road until 1934.

 

Right: Headington postmark of 1923


Headington's second London Road Post Office (1934–1942)

In 1934 Headington Post Office moved across the road to the present 117 London Road (now Istanbul Barbers), where it stayed for just eight years.


Headington's third London Road Post Office (1942–2016)

Post Office 2015

In 1942 Headington's Central Post Office moved to 142 London Road (the right-hand house of the above semi-detached pair that had been build in 1926), and from this date was a Crown Post Office with a postmaster rather than a sub-postmaster.

In January 1954 a planning application was approved for alterations to combine this pair of houses and change their use from residential to a Post Office (54/03362/A_H). The application contains detailed plans, including the new canopy shown above, and the drawing below:

Post Office 1944

The Post Office occupied No. 144 to the left as well as No. 142 on the right until 1993, when it ceased to be a Crown Post Office and reduced its size. A planning application (93/00421/NF) was approved in May 1993 to build a single-storey extension at the side and rear and alterations to form a new shop unit. Since then part of the house on the right has been a separate shop.

Headington's main Post Office last operated in this building on 13 February 2016 and it reopened in the nearby Co-op supermarket two days later.


Quarry post office

Stamp franked at Quarry


Quarry originally just had a letter-box in the wall of the Free School beside the Chequers pub.

Its first post office opened in an unknown house in 1881, and the following year it moved to the Yews in Quarry High Street.

In 1892 moved back to the house currently numbered 20 Beaumont Road. The 1911 census shows George James Cooper as shopkeeper and postmaster, living over the office with his wife Kate, who was the sub-postmistress, and their only child Kathleen Emily (3). Kathleen did not marry, and continued to run the post office in Beaumont Road until her death in 1962.

Right: Headington Quarry postmark of 1908

Lois East who ran the General Store at 53 Pitts Road, then ran the post office in her shop: for more information, see her reminiscences.

Pitts Road Post Office in 1983The Pitts Road Post Office in 1983

This shop closed in the mid-1980s, and the post office facility was then moved to the convenience store on the corner of Gladstone and Trafford Road.

The decision to close Quarry Post office was made at the end of 2003:


New Headington/Highfield Post Office

Joseph Draper's Post Office

New Headington had a post office (known as Highfield Post Office) at the grocer’s shop at 74 Lime Walk (NW corner of the crossroads) from about 1890 to 1947. It then moved to the dairy in All Saints Road, where it remained until 1984.

The picture above shows Joseph Draper standing outside Highfield Post Office in Lime Walk (which was also a baker’s shop) in about 1905. The 1911 census shows him here at the age of 66, described as a baker & shopkeeper, with his wife Emily (61) and his three unmarried daughters: Edith (36) and Alice (31) assisted him in his business, while Ethel (25) was a telephonist.


Headington postal delivery office

Lime Walk Sorting Office, 2005

Headington delivery office (above) opened at the top of Lime Walk in c.1938 in part of the telephone exchange building. The telephone exchange moved across the road to its present site in c.1955, but the delivery office remained at 2A Lime Walk until 2005. Following its closure, it was demolished to make way for flats (06/01249/FUL).


Sub-Post offices in the 1950s

In the 1950s there were six sub-post offices in the Headington area:

  • Highfield Post Office, All Saints Road
  • Merewood Avenue Post Office, Sandhills
  • Risinghurst Post Office, Downside Road
  • The Slade Post Office, 3 Cinnaminta Road
  • Headington Quarry Post Office, 20 Beaumont Road
  • Post Office, 25 Eden Drive.

There does not appear to have been a sub-post office at Barton at this date.


Post box

 

 

See also page showing the
39 post boxes of Headington
as at March 2015

© Stephanie Jenkins

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