From the Macclesfield Newsletter, Sept 2022 - Glimpses of the Past
A warm welcome to John and Domenica Whitbourne who follow in the footsteps of previous operators of the Macclesfield Post Office. Thanks to Nat Lemar for her research, and Helen Handke for more recent history.
In 1881, residents were agitating for a new Post and Telegraph Office completely separate from the private store that was then in use. Forty people attended a public meeting called by the Macclesfield District Council to voice their concerns.
Councillor Chas Edmonds explained that action had been taken because the existence of the Post and Telegraph Office at a private store did not, for many reasons, give satisfaction. He quoted instances of irregularity in the delivery and detention of letters due no doubt to the other multifarious public and private duties that Mr. Dancker undertook, as the Postmaster, the clerk of the District Council and storekeeper. Councillor Edmonds moved that the Macclesfield Post and Telegraph Office should be altogether separate from a private store, as the present arrangements did not give satisfaction. The proposal was strongly supported as stated in the Mt Barker Courier on 7 Oct 1881, p 3.
Davis House & Post Office c. 1930's
The new building was completed in 1884, a Savings Bank Agency was established a year later and the first public telephone was installed in 1910. A report in the SA Register 31 July 1884, p6 says that Mr. Squire, Deputy Postmaster–General, officially opened the building consisting of a public office and three private rooms. Miss Allen was in charge at the time and records indicate she held this position until Miss Wilhemena Main took over the role of postmistress in 1896.
Between 1911–1917 Mrs Troughton was the postmistress and Dulcie, her daughter, attended the Macclesfield public school from the age of 8. (In 1979, Dulcie wrote to us re-counting her memories of Macclesfield). She said that ‘her mother had to get up at 5 am to seal the mail bags so that they would be ready when the Mail Coach driver called at 6.10am. Before motor vehicles the mail was carried in a high coach drawn by two horses and at that time Mr. Waters [who lived in Hawthorn House from 1908] was the driver’.
Mrs Ada Mercer (widow) had charge of the post office for the next two years until she passed away. By all reports she was very much respected by the residents of the district.
Miss Margaret North and Mr. Alan Gordon Hayward ran the post office together between 1920–1923. As reported in the Register 12 Sep 1923 p3, Mr. Hayward was found guilty of theft from the postal service. In his own defense he said that he had a wife and four children to take care of but could not explain the shortage. The jury strongly recommended mercy to be shown in the sentence.
For the next twenty-four years the three Nicholas sisters Florence (Flos), Maud, and Geneva (Neva) shared the duties of postmistress and were very involved in the community. Maud had been the president and secretary of the Ladies guild for 13 years and both Flos and Neva assisted in its work and had served in the Sunday school, the latter being the church pianist and conductor of musical festivals. At their farewell on behalf of the Sunday school, they were presented with a variety of gifts as a mark of appreciation and gratitude for their good neighborliness, especially in times of bereavement. A public farewell at a social evening in the Institute was also held and people spoke very highly of their work and cooperation with various organisations including the Red Cross of which Miss Maud Nicholas still held office of vice president. In response the sisters spoke of the friendliness of Macclesfield residents during their residence here (Courier 2 Oct 1947, p2).
The Nicholas sisters with their brother during the 1940's
Between 1948–1958 Frederick Harvey was the postmaster. We have a few snippets about the Harvey’s from the newspapers of the day. In 1948 Mrs Harvey took on her husband’s duties when Fred severed a tendon in his foot cutting wood and a year later, they were holding card evenings at their residence to pay expenses in connection with the Macclesfield Sports Club’s annual ball.
James Carthew became the postmaster in 1959 and occupied that role until 1985. Apart from a busy working life they were also active members of the Uniting Church and Mrs Carthew assisted the Hall Committee.
In 1986 Ian and Wendy Springbett took on the job. From a small article in the Courier on 24 Mar 1993 p15, we gather that during their time they took over the franchise from Aust Post and apart from posting letters it became so much more; an electrical store, tourist shop, agent for SGIC and the Commonwealth Bank and apparently you could even pay your tax there! Ian said ‘post offices all over the country are set to change in the near future but this is one of the first in the district’.
Post Office 1984 Wendy & Ian Springbett serving Betty Price
30th July 1984 Wendy and Ian Springbett celebrate centenary of the Macclesfield Post Office.
Springbett Agencies - books, keys cut, Phillips Products, Loal Crafts, Pye Products
Clyde Buttery took over from the Springbetts and he was the post master for about 3 years. He commented that ‘while he was there the post office remained open all day, not closing for lunch as most small businesses did then’.
After Clyde retired, Rom and Joan Whitbread ran the Post Office until Janeane and Paul Thomas arrived in May 2001. They have been a big part of our friendly community for the past 21 years and we wish them a happy retirement.
The present post masters are John and Domenica Whitbourne,
Over the years there have been others who have worked at the post office, sorting the mail and attending to customers needs and will be remembered by locals. The history group welcomes any information to round out the post office story.
Macclesfield History Group Sep 2022