Campsie Post Office

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In 1899 the residents of Campsie and the surrounding district made representations for the establishment of a post office. At this time their letters were being delivered by the mounted (horseback) letter carrier from the Canterbury Post Office, which had been opened on 1st April, 1858. A petition dated 8th November, 1899, asked for a post office "at Croydon Park or Campsie”. Signed by the residents of Croydon Park, Croydon, Campsie and Rosedale, the petition contained 114 signatures.

FIRST POST OFFICE

The Postmaster-General approved of the opening of a Post Office at Campsie as from 1st April, 1900. The office provided facilities for the sale of stamps and postal notes, and for the registration of letters. Letter deliveries were made from the Canterbury Post Office. Mr G. M. Fitzpatrick, J.P. provided premises at the eastern corner of the junction of Browning Street and Beamish Street (This section of Beamish Street is now known as Brighton Avenue). Mr Fitzpatrick conducted a "Stationers" business, and his wife, Mrs J. E. Fitzpatrick was placed in charge of the post office. Mrs Fitzpatrick was paid £13 p.a. for her postal work.

The Postal Inspector had reported that the nearest post offices were at Canterbury, Croydon and Enfield and that a letter receiver situated near the Campsie railway station was cleared by the mounted letter carrier from Canterbury at 8.30a.m. and 3.30p.m. daily. It was mentioned that about six letters daily were collected from the box. Arrangements were made for the Canterbury letter carrier to pick up letters posted at the Campsie Post Office at 9.45a.m. and at 4.45p.m. These clearances reached the Head Office mail branch at 11.30a.m. and 6.35p.m.

Petition for change of Post Office site

In September, 1905, a petition was received from 64 residents of "the Redmans Estate, Harcourt Estate and Campsie Street”, asking for the removal of the post office to a more central position. The postmaster at Canterbury reported concerning the area "In Harcourt there are over 50 houses, in Redmans over 60, in Campsie Street 20 and top end of Campsie over 50”. A counter-petition signed by over 400 people opposed the removal of the post office. However the Postmaster Canterbury reported that only 199 of the signatures were those of householders who were known to the Letter Carriers.

After investigation it was decided to remove the post office to the premises of Mr Joseph Wright who conducted a General Store in Ninth Avenue, and to make the office a telegraph office. Mr Wright agreed to deliver telegrams within a mile radius of the post office for a payment of 2d per telegram. Mr Joseph Wright was appointed Postmaster, and the office opened at the new site on 9th July, 1906. Telegrams were sent and received by means of a telephone which was installed at the new office for the purpose. The telephone line was connected to the Ashfield Telephone Exchange, and its installation meant that public telephone facilities were made available at the Campsie Post Office for the first time.

It is believed that the telegraph office at Campsie was officially opened on 16th August, 1906. In December, 1906, Mr Wright mentioned the removal of the telephone “from its present place into the New Building*'. Possibly this referred to adjacent premises or an addition to the existing building.

Postal Statistics for 1907 show that business conducted at Campsie for that year was as follows;

  • Letters posted weekly - 137
  • Mails received and despatched weekly - 12
  • Telegrams transmitted annually - 353
  • Telegrams received annually - 1206


Letter Deliveries

In May, 1908, Charles Cannon, a Letter Carrier at Canterbury Post Office, asked for assistance in delivering letters to Campsie. He said :-

“Of late I have been compelled to walk on my letter delivery "Campsie’ through wet weather, as during such time and for days after a bicycle is absolutely useless. As the whole of the streets on my beat being grass clay or gravel and after heavy rain it would be impossible to ride a bike from one side to the other. I may also state in fine weather the bicycle is often out of order through no fault of my own and to do it on foot.

I have a mile walk, before I reach the first place on my beat, which takes in the whole of Campsie on the north side of the Railway extending to Margaret St.”

Concerning the Campsie Letter Deliveries the Postmaster Canterbury reported:

“The Campsie beat is carried out on a bicycle. The roads of that part are such that the machine cannot be used in wet weather or for a day or two after, but it must not be overlooked that the average number of wet days throughout the year is not very great. The Carriers statement that the bicycle is often out of order I cannot endorse.”

The following year, on 30th January, Postman Cannon’s bicycle was withdrawn and he was granted a forage allowance of £31.4.0. p.a. to provide a horse for the letter delivery. Complaints made by business people and residents during 1908 concerned late letter deliveries; single daily letter deliveries for some areas; the closing of the post office for an hour for lunch; the last mail which left Campsie at 4 p.m. and the inadequacy of the post office premises.

In a report dated 14th September, 1908, the Postal Inspector commented on postal facilities in general in the Canterbury District. The following points were included in his report:

" The main complaint from residents is the limitation of the afternoon delivery and the non delivery to new estates that have been opened up during the past few years. Public telephone facilities are inadequate, there being a public telephone at Campsie available only during office hours, although a continuous public telephone is in operation at Belmore Railway Station. There were no mails made up either at Campsie or Belmore, the letter boxes at the offices, and the letter receivers being cleared by postmen on their rounds.”

In October, 1908 approval was given for the extension of the letter deliveries twice daily to all places within one mile radius of Canterbury, Campsie and Belmore post offices; and the despatch of mails direct from Campsie and Belmore at 10.30 a.m. and at 8.30 p.m. A continuous public telephone service was also approved.

As from 1st November, 1908, Belmore and Campsie made up mails direct to Sydney. The mails then were despatched to Sydney twice every day of the week, and at 8 p.m. on Sundays. The Department advised the Hon. Bruce Smith (who had been making representations on behalf of residents);

" Campsie is a comparatively unimportant non-official office which produced for all services a revenue in 1907 of £88. The average number of telegrams delivered each day was four".

Postal Inspector Tomkinson, in November, 1908, described the post office premises as follows:

" The Office (Campsie) is at present conducted in conjunction with an Oil and Color Store, and is in charge of Mr Wright.... in deference to the

wishes of the Department and to try to give satisfaction to the public, is now providing a separate building to be used for Post Office purposes, this building is now in course of construction. The office space will be 16 feet x 8 feet and provision will be made for the Public Telephone, which is now only available during office hours (9a.m. to 6p.m.) to be a continuous service, a cabinet is to be placed on the verandah of the new building for this purpose."

A deputation from Campsie, led by the Hon. Bruce Smith, M.H.R., visited the G.P.O. and submitted the following evidence in support of a request for better facilities at the Campsie Post Office Mr Smith -

"The building in which the postal work is carried on is disgraceful, and although the Postmaster is stated to have endeavoured to rectify the inconveniences complained of by the erecting of a new building, still this is thoroughly inadequate for the purpose of the post office. It would appear to be a wooden building, in which are carried on the businesses of a barber's shop, a paint shop and the post office.
I was satisfied from the correspondence we had that the facilities with regard to the post office building would be rectified, that a portion of the new building which the present postmaster was erecting would be used exclusively for postal purposes, and would grant all the facilities to which the people of Campsie were reasonably entitled. I am now given to understand that this building is being used not only for postal purposes, but also portion of it as a barber's shop and another portion as a paint shop. If this is the case I would ask if the Department could not possibly rent some shop in the neighborhood, which could be used exclusively for postal business, and thus give these people of Campsie the facilities for which they are asking".

Mr Hook, President of the Shopkeeper's Association, stated :-

"With regard to the matter of providing suitable premises for the needs of Campsie, I can endorse all that Mr Smith has said, the present office is a barn of a place, neither ceiled nor lined-; is divided from the other premises by a few sheets of iron, and is netted in with wire in the front. The portion left for the post office is very narrow. The whole thing is only the skeleton of a building. I live next door, and people come to my place to inquire where the post office is, and letters are posted in my letter box instead of at the post office. People have told me they were under the impression the post office was a Chinese vegetable store.
Again, as regards the telephoning of telegrams, this has to be done in the hearing of any one who may be in the barber's shop, or in the paint shop, there is no privacy in the conduct of the telegraph business, and therefore people will not use this facility. In fact any one standing out on the footpath can hear what is being sent. I consider this a disgraceful state of things, in a suburb like this."

Postal Inspector Arnott, who visited Campsie subsequent to the representations made by the Deputation advised:

"The present premises, which were occupied on the 26th ultimo, (November) consist of a galvanised lean-to structure at one end of Mr Wright's shop.

It is divided into small rooms each about 7' x 9', the front room being provided with a counter 7' long x 1*8" wide, for the use of the public. The back room is used by the P.M. for making up mails and for writing purposes. No portion of these rooms is being used as a bar¬ber' s shop or a paint shop, the post office business was previously conducted in the adjoining shop where the business of a barber and the sale of oils and colors are carried on. There is no sign board outside to indicate that the place is a post and Telephone Office.

The P.M. is in the habit of closing the office for fully an hour or even longer when out delivering telegrams. He also closed between 1 and 2 p.m. and again when sorting and making up mails, and when attending to the telephone in the shop transmitting and receiving telegrams. The public very bitterly complain of this inconvenience, but the Postmaster informs me he cannot alter these arrangements, as he is unable to get any assistance from his wife, nor is he disposed to provide any other assistance".

It was decided to transfer the Post Office to the shop of Mr F. J. Clatworthy in Beamish Street, near the Railway Station. A Stationers and News Agents business was conducted by Mr Clatworthy at these premises, and as he was assisted by his wife he agreed to keep the post office open continuously between 9a.m. and 6p.m. Mr F. J. Clatworthy was appointed Postmaster on 1st February 1909. The post office was conducted in a room 13' x 11', at the back of the shop, with a 5' side entrance leading from the Beamish Street frontage. A rough plan gives the position of the shop as "2nd lot from Station". From the sketch map this would appear to have meant in the second 'block” from the station, and the site appears to have been on the Eastern side of Beamish Street. Money Order facilities were made available at Campsie on 15th February, 1909. Letters for Campsie were still delivered from Canterbury.

Move to new premises

On 13th December, 1909, Mr Clatworthy moved into different premises, on the opposite side of the street. Here the post office occupied the rear half of a shop which was approximately 14 feet wide by 30 feet deep. A partition divided the counter and portion of the shop for post office purposes, and the public telephone bureau appears to have been placed on the footpath in front of the premises. In July, 1910, Savings Bank facilities were made available at the Post Office. Postal business at Campsie was increasing rapidly as the district progressed and a return for 1910 included the following statistics:


  • Number of Articles posted p.a. - 66377
  • Number of Mails received and despatched - 936
  • Telegrams despatched - 851
  • Telegrams received for delivery - 1733
  • Money Orders issued - 158
  • Money Orders paid - 308
  • Postal Notes issued - 1791
  • Postal Notes paid - 1278
  • Savings Bank Deposits - 169
  • Savings Bank Withdrawals - 79

In January, 1911, Mr Clatworthy wrote asking permission for the post office to be closed on Saturday afternoon as he had noticed that Belmore did not open. This permission was granted in due course.

Official Post Office

By 1911 consideration was being given to the raising of the status of the Campsie Post Office to that of official post office. In April, 1911, Postal Inspector Quick reported concerning the Postmaster's request to close, the office at lp.m. on Saturdays, and concerning representations which had been made by residents and business people to have the status of the office raised to that of official post office. He advised that the suburb was served by an hourly train service, and that outside of poultry rearing and a little fruit growing, the place was purely residential. Inspector Quick recommended that the Saturday half holiday be approved. He also recommended that the post office be raised to official status, with a staff of Postmaster, 2 letter carriers, and a Messenger. Approval was given for a permanent official known as a Senior Assistant (in Charge) to be placed in charge of Campsie Post Office, and for a Telegraph Messenger to be appointed to the office.

In February, 1912 arrangements were completed with a Mr Lyon to rent a brick cottage for temporary use as an official post office. The official Post Office was opened in Mr Lyon’s premises on 1st March, 1912. On the opening day, the office was very bare. Through a misunderstanding a counter had not been provided, and there were no chairs in the front room which had become Campsie's first official post office. Mr John J. Russell had been appointed Senior Assistant (In Charge), or Postmaster. As Mr Russell was not available at the time of the opening of the new office, Mr H. H. Sawkins was placed in charge temporarily.

Mr Russell commenced duty at Campsie on 24th June,1912. He was assisted by the Telegraph Messenger. Letter Deliveries were still being made from Canterbury. According to a report dated October, 1912, postal business was conducted through a small window. Shortly after this the front verandah of the cottage was enclosed, providing more public space, and the public telephone bureau was installed "in the garden plot". Savings Bank business was removed from Campsie Post office on 30th September, 1912.


Post Office records list the following Postmasters' names as having been appointed to Campsie subsequent to Mr J. J. Russell (1912):-

  • Evans W. F. ...........1.1.11
  • Russell J. J...........24.6.12
  • Hazlett E. J. K........19.4.15
  • Osborne C. J...........1.1.16
  • Lawless W. J...........1.7.18
  • Cochrane R. T..........9.11.23
  • Holmes W. J............21.7.30
  • Miller G...............29.8.31
  • Seckold F. E...........20.1.37
  • McQuarrie C............21.9.38
  • Lown R.................13.1.44
  • McLelland F............6.4.50
  • Robson R. T............18.8.55
  • Scanlan A..............9.1.58
  • Curtois A. R............7.6.62

Later buildings

The site for post office building(frontage to Anglo Road) was acquired on 5th April, 1913. The building was erected in 1916 at a cost of £1,959.0.0., and was opened on 15th April, 1916. The building was replaced on 23 September 1974. Campsie Post Office is now on the top floor of the Campsie Centre located at 14-28 Amy Street, Campsie.

References

"An Australia Post Office History: Campsie". The Director, Posts & Telegraphs, G.P.O., Sydney (n.d.)