Belmore Post Office

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The first post office known as Belmore was established in 1879 in what is now the Wiley Park-Punchbowl area, which was then known as Belmore. Belmore Post Office moved to other locations, and in 1907 its name changed to South Belmore, when another post office was opened near the railway station and was called Belmore. South Belmore later became Lakemba and operated in various locations.

In April 1879, residents of "Belmore and surrounding neighbourhood" asked for the establishment of a post office. The petitioners advised:

Your petitioners request to inform you, that Belmore is situated about four miles from the Canterbury Post Office and on the main road to Georges River. (The Punchbowl/Wiley Park area was known as Belmore at this time. For comparison, the post office at Canterbury was opened in March 1858). Its population number between one and two hundred. A new public school is being erected. And there is every prospect of a large village being formed. At the present a number of the residents are greatly inconvenienced by having to proceed to the Canterbury Post Office to post and receive their letters or papers. Your petitioners numbly seek the sanction of the above, and, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

The postmaster at Canterbury, W. Slocombe, reported that about six letters weekly passed through his office for Belmore, which was three and a half miles distant. He thought that if an office was established a mail could be sent though the Canterbury office, and added: "I send regularly to Belmore three times a week and deliver the letters to that locality."

John Lucas MP recommended James Milner as postmsater "in the Parish of St George".

Post Office opening

James Milner was appointed postmaster on 1 July 1879, when the Belmore Post Office was established. Milner, who gave his occupation as "Labourer, Freeholder", named as sureties James Quigg and James Chisholm, both freeholders of Belmore. His salary was £10 per annum.

It was shown in October 1879 that for one month 106 letters, 2 packets and 31 newspapers were exchanged between Canterbury and Belmore. A three times weekly mail service was provided by James Milner, on horseback, for £14 per annum (Belmore PO file). Unfortunately the location of the post office was not given. An 1884 map (Mitchell Library X981.11/6A) shows the name Milner on a block on the southern side of Canterbury Road, near the present King Georges Road, and opposite the present Wiley Park. An 1886 map (M3.811.185/1886/1) shows Belmore Post Office in approximately the same position. Milner operated a horse-drawn bus between Belmore and Sydney in the early 1800's. Jervis, in his History of the Municipality of Canterbury, says: "In 1882, letters posted in Belmore numbered 1647, while postal revenue was £11.14.0. There was a decline in 1883 when 1221 letters were despatched. In 1889, although 2000 letters were posted, the revenue was only £9.0.0."

A break occurred in the records to 1889, when on February 26, Mrs Ann Milner was appointed postmistress following her husband's death (Campsie PO File).

Post office records if 1889 showed that on 20 April 1892, Mrs Milner, because of ill health, had to sell the business which she conducted in conjunction with the post office; and that she had held a contract to convey the mail between Canterbury and Belmore (a distance of 4 miles) six times weekly, for £42 per annum.

Mr Arthur Bransgrove, the purchaser of the business, was appointed postmaster on 20 April 1892. In applying for the position, he gave his address as Chapel Street, Canterbury. (The Sands Directory lists "A Bransgrove" in Chappell (sic) St., near Rogers St., which would have been his address prior to taking over Mrs Milner's business. Sands 1892 lists 'Belmore PO - A Bransgrove' in George St. (now Canterbury Road) between Canarys Rd and Bonds Rd. This confirms the earlier information on the location of the first post office).

Bransgrove forwarded his resignation in July 1892, in favour of 'Mr Bennett" of whom he said: ....is a suitable person to fill the position and his premises are situated in the best place for a post office as he is taking over my business altogether...

George H Bennett took charge on 16 July 1892, but forwarded his resignation the following November, advising also that he could not renew his contract for the mails.

T Harrison, of Belmore, on 14 November 1892, advised that he had taken a lease of "the premises at Belmore in which is included the post office", and was willing to take up the contract for the mails, "top be run by horseback". However, the postal inspector reported in favour of providing an additional letter carrier at Canterbury, so that one could deliver to "that portion known as Belmore", and making it possible to cancel the Belmore-Canterbury mail service. This would obviate the need for a post office at Belmore. His report referred to the extension of the railway and increasing settlement, and recommended:

...that a temporary Letter Carrier be appointed at a salary of £39 per annum (as no local lad suitable is obtainable at a less amount) with the usual forage allowance of £36/10/- per annum. This temporary Letter Carrier to be under the direction of the Postmaster, Canterbury for Letter delivery and Receiver Clearing in the Municipality of Canterbury, and who will regulate the work on beats as required.

Post Office closed

As a result of the new arrangements, the Belmore Post Office was closed on 21 November 1892.

Petition for PO - 1899

The Belmore railway station (formerly known as 'Burwood Road') had been opened on 1 February 1895. However nothing was recorded on the post office papers until 1899 when representations were made for the establishment of a post office at Belmore.

Walter D'Arrietta wrote from "Belmore" on 24 April 1899, that certain residents would be asking for a post office, but "on behalf of residents of the western end of the Municipality" he wished to protest against any alteration of the postal arrangements. He claimed that such was unnecessary as most of the petitioners enjoyed the benefit of a morning and afternoon letter delivery, and went on to say that any difficulty in obtaining stamps could be met "by licensing some shopkeeper ob the Canterbury Road and also one at or near the Belmore railway station.

A petition, forwarded about July 1899, asked for a post office, and advised that the nearest office was at Canterbury. The petitioners said: "We whose names are subscribed to this petition beg most respectfully to bring under your notice the great need of a small post office in Belmore and we would suggest the main road near Chapel St. as a suitable spot having the Moorfields District on the one side and the settlement round the Railway Terminus on the other..."

The postal inspector considered that a site near the railway station would be most suitable. However as a deputation from the Council, and the petition "proposed near the junction of Chapel and Canterbury Road as a suitable site, about 3/4 of a mile south from the station", and as Mr AJ Davey, storekeeper and newsagent near there was willing to conduct a post office, he recommended that an office be established under the name of Belmore, in charge of AJ Davey. He also recommended that mail for Belmore be sent via Canterbury and thence by letter carrier, and that mail be collected from Belmore twice daily by the Canterbury letter carrier in the course of his delivery.

Post Office reopened

A non-official post office, in charge of Alexander J Davey was opened on 21 August 1899, under the name of Belmore. Davey was paid £10 per annum. Approval was given for Davey to move the post office a distance of about "250 yards along the main road" to a new building which the postmaster was erecting, in August 1900. (Sands Directory 1902 lists "PO & Store - AJ Davey" in George St (now Canterbury Road) between Chappell (sic) St and Canarys Rd. A rough sketch in 1906 showed the post office on the south side of Canterbury Road, east to Haldon Street).

In May 1906, residents not receiving a letter delivery petitioned the Postmaster-General when the boundary of the Municipality was extended to include them in the Canterbury Municipality. They mostly were residents of Belmore, Bonds and Canterbury Roads, as well as residents of Bellona, Shorter and George Streets.

The postmaster at Canterbury reported that before the passing of the Shires Act, Bonds Road was the boundary of Canterbury Municipality but the boundary had been extended to Salt Pan Creek, and many of the residents believed that letter deliveries were always granted in a Municipality. Some of the people who petitioned were well back from the roadside and were miles apart. Their occupants were mainly gardening, poultry farming and wood carting.

By 1907 complaints were being made concerning the inconvenient position of the post office at Belmore, where "increasing settlements" was taking place. In June 1907, a largely signed petition asked for the establishment of a post office near the Belmore railway station. This was presented by a deputation from the Belmore Progress Association. The postal inspector reported in favour of the establishment of a post office oat Mr Tritton's News Agency and Stationer's shop, close to the railway station. Tritton had agreed to build a suitable room in which to conduct the office. It was also recommended that the new office be named "Belmore", and the office formerly known by that name (in Liverpool Road) be changed to "South Belmore". (The reference to Liverpool Road would be to Canterbury Road, being the road to Liverpool. Sands Directory 1908 lists "Belmore PO & Store" in Canterbury Road, south side, between Chapel St and Flora St).

New Belmore Post Office

A new office was opened under the name of "Belmore" in charge of Mrs Ellen Tritton on 19 August 1907, when the name of the former "Belmore" post office was changed to "South Belmore". Mrs tritton received a postal allowance of £10 per annum. A report by the postal inspector in 1908 mentioned that mails were not made up at Belmore, the letter box at the post office and the letter receivers being cleared by postmen on their rounds. Apparently at this time a letter delivery was being made once daily, as in September approval was given to all places within one mile radius of Canterbury, Campsie and Belmore post offices. A dispatch of mails from Campsie and Belmore at 10:30 am and at 8:30 pm was also approved (Campsie Post Office was opened in 1900).

Mr David Durie succeeded Mrs Tritton and was appointed postmaster on 1 July 1908, with an allowance of £20 per annum.

Telephone

In November, 1908, a telephone office was established at the post office, in charge of Mr Durie. This meant that telegrams could be sent and received at the office, and arrangements were made for a telegram delivery. The office hours were 9 am to 6 pm. A public telephone, connected to the Ashfield Telephone Exchange, was opened at Belmore Post Office on 20 February, 1909. By 1912, Mr Durie's postal allowance increased to £73.10.0 per annum. The status of the office was increased to that of official post office on 8 July 1926.

A site for the post office was acquired in Burwood Road in January 1924, and additional land was acquired in September 1948. The post office building was completed on 13 January 1926.

South Belmore Post Office

When the former Belmore Post Office on the south side of Canterbury Road, east of Haldon Street, was renamed South Belmore in 1907, AJ Davey had been postmaster since 1899. His resignation as Postmaster at South Belmore is dated 22 May 1908. It was recommended that GH Jones should succeed him. Mr Jones had apparently bought the store from Mr Davey. George Henry Jones took over the postal business on 12 June 1908, the salary for which was £20 per annum.


References

"Belmore/South Belmore/Lakemba Post Office", Australian Post Office, Historical Section, 1977 "Historic Sites of Canterbury", Canterbury and District Historical Society (n.d.). "Belmore's Wandering Post Office, Brian Madden, 1977