The Anson Road Post Office

44 Anson Road was Wolverton’s only, and it appears last, sub Post Office. This has now been converted to a residence with few clues that it was once a shop. The bay window is probably recent. if memory serves me correctly the shop window was originally plate glass. They also sold stationery and some toys around Christmastime. It was run by a man named Longmore and it was clearly named the Anson Road Post Office.
That much is simple and straightforward, but when I checked back in the Trade Directories to see when it might have started up I encountered a surprise. Up to 1939, the address was 44 Jersey Road, not Anson Road!
Some facts first, from Kelly’s Directory:

1924 Henry Riddell, shopkeeper, Post Office 44 Jersey Road

1928 Henry Riddell, shopkeeper, Post Office 44 Jersey Road

1931 Henry Riddell, shopkeeper, Post Office 44 Jersey Road 

1935 Wm S Longmore shopkpr & post office, 44 Jersey Road 

1939 Wm S Longmore statnr. & post office, 44 Jersey Road 

I spoken to one or two people who are possibly old enough to recall if it was ever in Jersey Road. The house that is there shows little evidence of ever having been a shop other that a side door on Aylesbury Street, but I have to assume that the Kelly’s directory was right. Even if there was a mistake in the 1924 edition it would not have survived for 15 years and two owners.

It is not immediately obvious what Mr Longmore gained from the move. The Anson Road address might have been larger and was certainly a slightly newer building.

The Second Post Office

Some time back I wrote about the first Post Office on Bury Street, operated by the butcher, George Gilling. When those buildings were torn down in the 1850s, the enterprising Charles Aveline put up this first privately built house on the Stratford Road. I believe that the Post Office stayed here until the new General Post Office was opened on Church Street in the 1930s.

This is probably not the best photo to show this, but the first two-story house, Number 6 was the Post Office. It looks as if Aveline built this and what is now 7 and 8 together. In 1861 he was the only resident. The building next, with the slightly different roofline, now 9a and b, was an early grocery store, operated by Abraham Culverhouse.

Wolverton’s First Post Office

The arrival of the railway at Wolverton coincided with the development of a more universal postal service. The Penny Post, symbolised by the famous Penny Black stamp, was introduced byRowland Hill in 1840. The growth of railways made the post office possible.
The first Postmaster was a Stony Stratford butcher, George Gilling. He opened up a butcher’s shop on Bury Street and ran the post office next door.
As far as I can tell the Post office operated here until this part of Wolverton was pulled down in the mid 1850s. The Post Office then moved to one of the first houses built on the Stratford Road. This time the franchise went to Charles Aveline the local builder.
Postal delivery in the 1840s was undertaken by Joseph Anstee who live on Cooke Street. He was probably only paid a few shillings a week for this daily task and to make ends meet had to accommodate four lodgers, as well as his family of five, in his two room house.

The Postal Service

Back in the 50s the Postal Service was the cheapest form of long distance communication. Telephones were expensive and uncommon – a few minutes telephone conversation might cost four times the cost of sending a letter. Nowadays those relative costs  have been reversed.
The General Post Office, built in the 1930s, has changed little externally. The main entrance led to a public area on the left with counter stations where one could buy stamps, postal orders, pay for parcels etc. The rest of the building was given over to a sorting office and administrative offices. I think there was a public call box inside the front door.
Until the creation of British Telecom the Post Office had charge of the telephone service. The telephone exchange may have been located here. I am not sure.
Telephones were rare in the 1950s. A few residences had them and people who provided services like doctors and plumbers. Not many retail businesses had a telephone. I don’t suppose they saw the point. Shops were open during strictly enforced opening hours. Shoppers bought from the stock you had on hand. It would not have occurred to anyone to phone up and ask if they had such and such in stock and what was the price.
To give some idea of the general scarcity of telephones, Wolverton was in the Bedford Telephone Directory which was about 1cm thick in 1955 and covered Bedfordshire, North Bucks and North Hertfordshire. Public call boxes were also rare. Apart from the one at the General Post Office, I can only remember one other – at the works entrance by the Station. There may also have been another by Anson Road. Even if they wanted to use a phone Wolverton residents would have had to walk a long way  for a call box.
There were still two daily postal deliveries in the early 50s. There was never as much in the “second post” as in the first one in the morning. At Christmas time delveries were constant. 
Our postman was a man called Charlie Phillips whom we children regarded as rather strange. He used to call across the street to us phrases like “Ows yer mother off for soap?” To which there could be no reply because we did not understand what he meant – possibly something to do with rationing.  He was regarded as quite harmless.