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is for Post Office

The Post Office sadly closed on 25th November 1993, after a period of part-time post office business. The fact that the grocery side had already finished in 1990, reflected our new shopping habits.   “Post Office Cottages” became thus in 1937 (previously being housed in Church Street and before then, what is now Rose Cottage, which at the time was also the Bake House). The business was known as “Clover and Harmer”, but Mr. Clover died as a result of an accident, and George Harmer, then his assistant, took over the business. George’s wife, Daisy and sister, Elsie “manned” the shop when George was called up in 1941. During the War, the building was often teeming with evacuees. It was a typical village shop, with sweets and groceries wrapped as you waited. The building, which had originally housed three large families, had been part of the Costessey Hall Estate but in 1919 they were sold to the Barclays at Colney Hall. The Harmers gradually bought all three properties from the Barclays.

When the Harmers finally left in 1970, the stability of ownership also ceased, with a succession of owners and postmasters/mistresses. Names some villagers will remember are the Sucklings (1970 for two years), the Lancasters (1972-1978), the Roberts, who also ran a specialised printing service from 1978 to 1986, and finally the Williams from 1986 until its closure. When the Williams moved to Norwich in 1993, the post office had already been trading on a part time basis for three years, and the terms offered by the Post Office made business for any prospective owners unviable. Sadly since then, of course, we have had a succession of further closures of local Post Offices, mirroring a general trend. But with the arrival of the Hipwells in 1994, new life was certainly breathed into the centuries-old building, and with it their interest in its history and a desire to preserve and conserve it.

The charm of the “Old Post Office” is always visible from its central position and a reminder of the architectural quaintness of Bawburgh. Similarities with the Kings Head and Blacksmiths Cottage dates it around 1600. Early in the 20th century, however, we know it was home to three families, with Ben and Daisy Harmer running “Bridge Stores” from the right hand portion. In 1937, the post office operation was transferred from Church Stores to Bridge Stores. This must have been a major coup! Ben Harmer was called up for War Service and Daisy was helped by Ben’s sister Elsie to “man” the shop. It was a typical grocery store of the day, with food stuffs sold separately and packed in greaseproof paper, the sugar bagged and the bacon cut by hand. Newspaper deliveries were carried out too. Since then, the iconic village building has been home to the Hipwell family who have continued its restoration—including “stopping up” the frontage, which has enabled them to take down the porch.

Bawburgh Post Office 
Post Office cottages July 1991
Old Post Office Cottages, July 2008

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