|Letters on the subject of West Mersea Post Offices.
Post Office - letter 1
May I request space to correct the inaccuracies in the printed history of the West Mersea Post Offices in this issue.
The first Office was indeed in the first cottage of the Terrace on the right hand side of Church Road. The 1881 Census gives Manash [Manesseh] BANKS (58) as the Postmaster, with his daughter Edith BANKS (22) as Postmistress.
The second was in the house bearing the tablet stating that it was 'erected by H.J. May in his 86th year to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 1887'.
The 1891 Census gives Arthur MUSSETT (26) as Postmaster, and Edith MUSSETT (32) as Postmistress. (Having married, one assumes).
The 1901 Census gives Arthur MUSSETT (37) as Shell Merchant and Edith MUSSETT (42) as SubPostmistress.
The third Post Office was in the house now occupied by Barclays Bank, 10 Yorick Road. I believe that Arthur [Ashton] TURNER was the Postmaster at that time. This is shown as, Post & Telegraph Office on the West Mersea map of 1914.
The fourth Post Office a much more business affair, was housed in the front of 12 Yorick Road, (now Tim Humphries Physio). I can recall visiting this office with my mother, and remember the Sorting Office being built on the right hand side with a glass front to the road, (later the Carpet Shop, now a garage).
Mr Richard (Dick) PAGE was the Postmaster at that time and lived there with his wife Ruby and sons Keith and Colin. This building also housed the first Manual Telephone Exchange in a room at the rear. Date of all of this is uncertain, including when 'phones became available for general use. I would guess at around the mid-1920's, when things started to happen with services. I do know that Clifford M WHITE, Builder and Estate Agent, took West Mersea 1 and 2.
Post Office number five - the present building on the corner of Yorick Road and the High Street was owned in early days by Mr and Mrs GOWEN, of the Sailmakers, Coast Road, Ken GOWEN and Ruby PAGES' mother and father. Mrs GOWEN ran a high-class confectionery shop called 'The Chocolate Box' from there. I recall the mouth-watering display in the windows. Upon Mrs Gowen's death, the Post Office moved here after the necessary alterations, around 1938-39 time, I believe, with Dick as Postmaster, and later his son Colin. It has changed hands a few times since.
In earlier times there were half a dozen small trees around the forecourt, and on one day a year, a rope was put around the whole of the periphery to establish ownership.
Thanks to my elder sister, Mrs Doris Hempstead, for some verifications of the older days.
Post Office - letter 2
Douglas Stoker's short history of Mersea Post Offices is not quite correct
He should remember that when we were boys in the 1930's the Post Office was in Yorick Road next to what is now Barclay's Bank car park. West Mersea's first telephone exchange was in a room at the back and after being various shops it has recently been converted to a private house. Previously the Post Office had been in the building now occupied by Barclays Bank when Ashton Turner was postmaster.
This would have been West Mersea's third Post Office unless there were others I've missed, but not Mersea's as there have been of course, several East Mersea post offices, the first being at Post Cottages opposite Blue Row which was in West Mersea - confusing I know but all of this was for a purpose.
Apparently Cudmore the West Mersea carrier had a contract to carry Mersea's mail to and from Colchester "At breakneck speed". Woe betide anyone who got in the way
He picked up at West Mersea Post Office then went via Blue Row to pick East Mersea's mail and returned by the same route.
His cart was of course, horse drawn.
East Mersea's mail was distributed by a "Letter Carrier" possibly on horseback
To say that Mr. & Mrs. Page had the present Post Office built is not strictly true either. It was previously Mrs. Gowen's sweet shop but Dick Page had an extension rebuilt on the side by the folly by Clifford White c1938-39 to make a sorting office, thus turning it into a Post Office