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Scottish fact of the week: Sanquhar

Sanqhar post office opened in 1712 five years after the unification of Scotland and England. Picture: SWNS

Sanqhar post office opened in 1712 five years after the unification of Scotland and England. Picture: SWNS

  • by RAY PHILP
 

Sanquhar is a quiet town in Dumfriesshire that celebrated a significant anniversary last year.

It is home to the world’s oldest working post office, which in 2012 became 300 years old.

Eight years older than its nearest rival in Stockholm, the Sanquhar Post Office has been in service since 1712.

It was originally a staging post for postmen, then called runners, to transport mail on foot and horseback across the country.

Against the backdrop of the unification of England and Scotland in 1707, it is thought that a spy network may have been established at Sanquhar.

Since the postal service was only used by landed gentry in the 18th century, it would have granted unparalleled access to the goings-on of influential families and individuals.

Though technology has certainly not bypassed Sanquhar Post Office altogether, the face of the building retains an appearance that reveals its centuries-long heritage.

And it’s in the midst of some restoration, too: Penny Murphy, thought to be Sanquhar’s first postmistress, last year re-opened the building’s original front door, which had been sealed for 20 years. A string of other repair works coordinated by Mrs Murphy and husband Richard will see further improvements made to the historic site.

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Sanquhar, the oldest post office in the world

 

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