Queen Victoria’s former post office goes up for sale

The Old Post Office Crathie at  Ballater was built 200 years ago.
The Old Post Office Crathie at Ballater was built 200 years ago.
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One of Scotland’s earliest rural post offices which became a lifeline for the royal family is up for sale.

The Old Post Office in the Royal Deeside hamlet of Crathie was built around 200 years ago.

It was intended to be a house for Charlie Thomson, who worked for Queen Victoria during her summers spent on the neighbouring Balmoral Estate across the River Dee. The post office was added on to the house later and quickly became a vital meeting point for the local community.

There was even a switchboard which controlled all royal calls connecting the monarch to the outside world when she was spending her holidays in Scotland.

And with Crathie Kirk next door, there’s every chance that the new owner will get the chance to see Her Majesty going to Sunday service in the summer.

The three-bedroom property has been home to generations of the Thomson family.

Mr Thomson’s great-great-grandson Bruce Thomson, 77, grew up in the house with his two brothers Angus and Alistair.

As youngsters, he said they paid little attention to the post office despite it quickly becoming a vital lifeline for residents and royalty alike.

He said: “My great great grandfather built it on the turnpike road. It was just a but and ben originally with a croft behind it.

“With the advent of Queen Victoria to Balmoral he became involved in working for the estate.

“When the penny post became a viable proposition my great great grandfather decided that it was a good place for a post office.

“I think he originally sold stamps through the parlour window, then they built on an extension and it became a proper post office.

“It extended beyond being a post office and became a village shop and the heart of the community.

“People would come together and gossip and catch-up. It was an important place in those days.”

He added: “Originally when the old man died, Queen Victoria was still about and she said she required family continuity at Crathie post office. And the only available of the seven sons was a banker by that time. He said he couldn’t possibly do it - so she paid him a royal pension to come back and be the postmaster.”

The post office stopped running around 20 years ago although there is still a post box built into one of the walls of the property.

There are three public rooms, the largest of which once played host to the post office and village shop.

Many a resident of Royal Deeside would meet in the property to exchange parcels wrapped in brown paper and string.

But the focus of the young Thomson boys’ attention was the house’s five acres of secluded paddock and woodland.

Although neglected these days, it still holds many fond memories for Mr Thomson.

He said: “There’s about five acres of woodland and paddock which was originally used for Charlie’s goats, cows and hens.

“We used to love it as kids, it was almost magical to us and we spent hours playing outside.”

Mr Thomson’s brother Alistair became unwell in recent years and although the rest of the family live nearby, they feel it is time to finally sell up and let a new owner take it forward.

But the Thomsons will always have a connection to the area - and the monarchy who have spent so much time there.

Offers should be made over £375,000. Contact Bruce Thomson on 01339 742360.