Where Is The World's Oldest Post Office?

The world's oldest post office in the United Kingdom.
The world's oldest post office in the United Kingdom.

Post offices offer several mail-related services including the dispatching of letters and parcels, the hiring out of post office boxes, and the selling of postage stamps. They also offer additional services such as processing of government services and payments such as taxes and licenses. Post offices also offer banking services such as saving accounts and money order. The term “post office” was first used in the 17th century after the legalization of the private mail services in England. The general post office is used to refer to the national headquarter of a postal service.

Evolution Of The Post Office

Postal services date back to as early as 2,400 BC when the Egyptian Pharaohs disseminated the decrees using the royal curriers. Regular mail services were initiated by Princely House of Thurn and Taxi in Brussels in the late 16th century. The history of the first post office in the world is not clear, but the several post houses were in place by late 17th century. However, the oldest functioning post office as claimed by the British Postal Museum is located on the High Street in Sanquhar, Scotland. The post office was established in 1712, five years after the unification of Scotland and England. Sanquhar is a town in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. The town lies north of Thornhill and west of Moffat. The town is known for several reasons including a place where the Sanquhar Declaration was signed by the Covenanters who opposed the episcopalization renouncing their allegiance to the king.

Overview Of The Sanquhar Post Office

Sanquhar post office opened its door in 1712 in Dumfries along the High Street. It is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest post office in the world. When the post office was opened, the postmen, who were called “runners,” ran between officers to deliver letters and parcels. Sanquhar post office has operated continuously since its establishment, eight years longer than its closest rival in Sweden. In 1738, the post office began stamping mails and later introduced horses which were used to deliver letters and parcels. The post office had no counters when it began its operations. The mails were delivered through the window with customers tapping the window then handing in their mails and the required fee. The position of a postmaster was prestigious and was always held by men in other authoritative positions in the community such as provosts, schoolmasters, and town clerks. The post office was modernized in 1974 with the replacement of the hand stamping by the hand-operated canceling machine called bacon slicer. The history of the Sanquhar post office has been shaped by the family of Matthew Hogarth who ran the business for 70 years and is still a dedicated regular.

Future Plans For The Sanquhar Post Office

The Sanquhar post office was put for sale in 2014 due to the persistent losses and the uncertainty of the business. The post office was almost closed down when it was apparent that a buyer could not be found with a possible community takeover falling through. However, the world’s oldest post office reopened its doors in 2015 under a new postmaster, Manzoor Alam, after its renovation and refurbishment. Part of the postmaster’s plan is to open a postal museum at the postal office. If a postal museum is opened, then it will be the first in Scotland


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