Lelant postal services
© Maxwell Adams 2003-2009
Version 28 January 2009
The first mention of a postal service in Lelant is in the 1851 census in which Andrew Thomas, aged sixty seven, is described as a "letter receiver" living at the "Post Office" (folio 236). He probably lived in St Ives Road as his entry is after those for Tyringham Place. Kelly's directory for 1856 does not mention a post office at Lelant but says, "Letters through Hayle. Nearest money office is at Camborne." The Postal directory and gazetteer for Devon and Cornwall of 1862 says that there is no post office at Lelant and records the same information as Kelly's in 1856. The service provided by Thomas was thus limited.
In the census in 1861 his widow Ann, then seventy-one, living in St Ives Road, is described as "Subpostmistress" and her address is recorded as "Post Office" (folio 63). The exact house in St Ives Road cannot be identified as no house numbers are given for St Ives Road in either census.
In the 1871 census Jane C Sandow is described as "postmistress." Her husband is a blacksmith. The 1873 edition of Kelly's directory records Charles Burt as subpostmaster. No address is given.
The 1881 census records Charles Burt as "tailor and postmaster" (folio 61). It gives the address unhelpfully as "Lelant Town." He was born in March 1834 at Phillack and married a Lelant woman, Mary Jane Bryant. In this census two of their children, Richard and Sophia, are recorded as a "letter carrier," what we call a postman or woman. The Cornish Telegraph of 28 July 1881 says that Richard Burt, "the courteous and obliging letter carrier and assistant post office keeper" at Lelant, had been appointed "letter sorter" at Birmingham. He had been educated at Lelant National School.
The service in Lelant was developing. Kelly's directory for 1893 says that Lelant post office was a railway sub-office, and handled money orders, telegraph services, and was a savings bank and an annuity and insurance office. The 1891 census shows the Burt family involved in the work of the post office. Charles was the postmaster, his wife Mary Jane was an assistant to him, daughter Mary Sarah was a telegraphist at the post office, son Harry was the postman, and son Albert was the telegraph messenger.
St Uny's church magazine for July 1892 (CRO P 120/2/47/1) states that there were two letter deliveries a day, at 8.35 am and 3.10 pm. The post office was opened from 7 am to 8 pm on weekdays and 8 am to 10 pm on Saturdays.
Burt retired as Lelant postmaster in March 1901 because of ill-health. At this time the post office was at the house Eastleigh in Fore Street. He had been postmaster in Lelant from at least 1873 and the staff presented him with a leather chair. The post office had apparently outgrown its present quarters, and a new office was needed (St Ives Weekly Summary 8 April 1901). He died in 1902 and a report described him as a Primitive Methodist leader (St Ives Weekly Summary 3 May 1902).
Burt was succeeded by Miss Christina Trevaskis (who in 1902 married Ernest Henry Southcott) and just before Christmas 1901 the post office moved to larger premises at the house Trecott, a few metres down Fore Street. The St Ives Weekly Summary reported, "Lelant's new post office has been opened and has proved a boon in the extra Christmas postal business" ( 28 December 1901, also Cornishman 21 and 25 December 1901).
Christina Southcott remained in the job till she retired. She died in 1966 aged ninety-two. She and her husband were Wesleyan Methodists (see for example Cornishman 23 March 1938). At Trecott the post office had two rooms, entered by the door on the far left (looking at the house from the road). Lelant sorted its own post and stamped them with the village name and the post was then taken down to Lelant railway station. The only public telephone in Lelant was inside this post office. Villagers could go to the post office at 5 pm to collect any mail (Jones 1996).
During World War II the post office moved to the Old Bank House. Joyce Jones recalls seeing the telephone kiosk being moved across the road by two men to the new post office. At the Old Bank House a door, now a window, to the left of the main door of the house (looking at it from the road) led to a grocery shop and the post office on the left again of this now vanished door. The room on the right was at one time a cafe then a flat occupied by Nanny Coleman.
In 1962 the post office was moved to the specially-built shop and post office, its present site, at Ivy Mount, a few metres down the street from the Old Bank House.
The following information about the post office in his time comes from Peter Tonks in conversation in 1996.
In 1957 Tonks became subpostmaster and went into partnership at the Old Bank House post office and shop with Dorcas Phillips who was subpostmistress. In about 1962 the partnership ended and Peter Tonks and his wife bought 2 Ivy Mount. Gordon Hurrell built the present and shop for them.
Lelant post office did everything a main post office did except it did not sell vehicle excise licences.
The postmen were Mr Niblett and Stanley Hawes and later Major Dimmock, formerly in the Army.
The unsorted mail came from St Ives and was sorted at Lelant Post Office. Niblett did the village round; Hawes, on a red post office bicycle, did the rural round including Lelant Downs, Balnoon, and Trink. Parcels were delivered in an old pram. The post office shut at 6 pm. Telegrams were telephoned from Truro Main Post Office and delivered by bicycle or foot. GWR were fined if the mail train was late. Post was delivered on Christmas morning. There were still two deliveries of post in the village, one in the morning, one in the afternoon.
Shaw Baker, with nurseries in Church Road, sold anemones by post. He sent out hundreds at Christmas at an average cost of 71/2d a parcel.
Children at the village school in Church Road came mainly from Carbis Bay. At the end of school, the teachers marched them down to the bus stop and the children bought sweets and so forth at the post office/shop. In summer the shop closed at 10 pm. However, Peter Tonks said that here was always someone knocking on the door at 10.05 pm. In winter they shut at 6 pm.
Closure of Lelant post office 2008
Lelant post office closed 25 October 2008; the accompanying grocery shop also closed. There was a public meeting on 20 August 2008 in Lelant village hall about the closure proposals (part of 2500 post office closures proposed throughout Britain). Seventy people attended. All the comments on the Lelant closure were opposed to it.
As part of the consultation about the proposals for the post office closures, Royal Mail published details of post office work. For Lelant this included:
the opening hours were Monday-Friday 0830-1315, 1400-1730; Saturday 0900-1230; total opening hours 44.75 hours a week
there were 200-299 customer sessions at the post office each week.
Lelant subpostmasters and mistresses
Andrew THOMAS, letter receiver in 1851 census
Ann THOMAS, subpostmistress, St Ives Road 1861 census
Charles Polkinghorne BURT, subpostmaster 1873 Kelly's directory, postmaster (and tailor) 1881 census, retired March 1901 when the post office was at Eastleigh. He was born 18 March 1834 at Phillack, married 17 August 1857 at Phillack to Mary Jane BRYANT. Died April 1902. Primitive Methodist local preacher, class leader, and steward. Mary Jane Bryant was baptised 17 February 1859 at Lelant where she was born. She died January 1903.
Mrs Christina SOUTHCOTT, 1901. Miss Christina TREVASKIS married Ernest Henry Southcott 1902. From December 1901 the post office was at Trecott. It moved from Trecott to Old Bank House during World War II. She was born 1873/4, died 3 December 1966, aged ninety two. Her husband, Ernest Henry, died 23 March 1947 aged seventy one. As Miss TREVASKIS she became Lelant subpostmistress on Burt's retirement and she had been in charge of the post office at Canonstown previously (St Ives Weekly Summary 6 April 1901).
Dorcas PHILLIPS, at Old Bank House in April 1948 (from Wesleyan Baptism register).
Peter TONKS, 1957-67. In 1962 moved to Ivy Mount.
Lelant post office workers and post deliverers, etc
Richard Bryant BURT, Letter carrier in 1881 census. Richard Burt, "the courteous and obliging letter carrier and assistant post office keeper," at Lelant has been promoted to "letter sorter at Birmingham." He had been educated at Lelant National School (Cornish Telegraph 28 July 1881, page 5).
Report in the St Ives Weekly Summary 24 January of the funeral of Mrs Mary Jane Burt, the widow of the Lelant postmaster Charles Burt. The following postmen in uniform were the bearers:
William BRYANT, born about 1878 at St Ives
Richard James Hall NICHOLAS, born 1875 at Lelant
George PEARCE, born about 1879 at Lelant
Reports in the Cornishman 2 February and 2 March 1938 of Bryant's retirement
W BRYANT of Lelant retired on 31 December 1937 after forty-four years as a post worker. There was a presentation at Lelant Post Office to him. He had been sorting the morning post at Lelant for twenty-nine years. The following were present at the presentation:
W BLEWETT, Lelant post office
W EDMONDS, Lelant post office
Richard C COULAM, Lelant post office
Miss A GOLDING, assistant at Lelant post office
FE MORTLOCK, who had been a post worker at Lelant but had, I think, transferred to Hayle
Richard James Hall NICHOLAS, a former postman (in 1903 report)
Also mentioned were Miss Jean HARRY and Miss M RUBERRY.
Major DIMMOCK (ex-Army, probably replaced Stanley Hawes)
Fred PEDLAR, born 15 August 1902, left Lelant National School summer 1915 to be assistant in the post office (Lelant post office not specified).