THIS ARTICLE will continue exploring the history of Chichester post office from the start of the 19th century.
By the early 1830s, Chichester was receiving around 31 bags of post a day from Brighton, London and Portsmouth, leading to increased pressure on the post office.
Chichester Postmaster Joseph Angell complained that the ‘duties of the Post Office in Chichester are wholly beyond the powers of one person to discharge’. He had been forced to hire assistance and asked for an increase of salary, a request which was denied. In 1834, John Angell was dismissed as Postmaster, arrested, and had his assets seized due to irregular activity when serving as Postmaster. Mr Angell owed £220 to the post office at the time of his dismissal.
In 1834, the post office moved to West Pallant when John Fuller took over as Postmaster and ran the post office from his premises there. He was succeeded in 1856 by John Berry, who established a small post office in his South Street home. He was paid £140 a year and was later succeeded by his daughter, Annie, in 1876.
In order to keep up with the growing volume of mail that came to and through Chichester, a separate sorting office was set up at Chichester railway station in 1884 with rent of £10 per year being paid. By 1890, with the extension of the railway, there were 10 mail deliveries a day into Chichester
In 1891, a larger, custom-built post office was built in South Street (currently Hays Travel) and included an on-site sorting office. It was hoped that this site would be better suited for the increasing mail that came through Chichester. Annie Berry retired as Postmistress when the new West Street premises opened and was replaced by the first full-time, salaried Postmaster of Chichester, John Little.
In the late 19th century, Royal Mail began to look at motorised transport as a quicker and more reliable method of delivering post and by 1907, the first vehicle entered service. Chichester had acquired its own post lorry by 1910.
In 1911, Frederick George Bellamy was Chichester’s Postmaster and ran the post office in South Street. Services offered at this time included post-dispatch, banking services and a telegraph office. He was supported by four local sub-post offices located at East Street, Northgate, Portfield and Whyke.
In 1936, building of a new post office in West Street was completed. The building was designed by David Dyke. The old South Street premises continued to be used as a sorting office until 1964, when a larger site opened at Basin Road. As well as the main post office – there were smaller branches around the centre including ones at Saddlers Walk, Summersdale and Parklands.
Due to a change in the way people use the post office and the number of people using them, it was decided by the Government in 2008 to close 2,500 branches of the 14,000 currently open nationwide. In the Chichester district four branches were identified for closure including those at Saddlers Walk and Parklands, and four were replaced with outreach services such as mobile Post Office vehicles which visit rural locations at set times and on certain days of the week.
In October, 2016, the post office was once again relocated, this time moving into Sussex Stationers in North Street. The move, which was unpopular with some local residents, was undertaken to ensure the branch is commercially viable in the future so that Post Office services can continue to be offered in Chichester. The branch currently serves an estimated 2,000 people a week.
Compiled using ‘The Postal History of Chichester, 1635 – 1900’ by Brigadier G.A. Viner
Compiled by Amanda Rogan, learning officer at the Novium Museum