Friday
Mar302012

Recently added Photos

Friday
Mar302012

This article appeared in the Leicester Topic 1st August 1990

An amendment has been made from the original article to give the actual location of the Parcel Office in 1898. The Campbell Street Sorting Office was opened around 1913 and rebuilt in 1927, it was originally a cheese factory.    

Click here for the full article

Wednesday
Feb012012

Latest Pictures

Wednesday
Feb012012

This article appeared in the Leicester Topic 1st August 1990

An amendment has been made from the original article to give the actual location of the Parcel Office in 1898. The Campbell Street Sorting Office was opened around 1913 and rebuilt in 1927, it was originally a cheese factory.    

 

Click Here To Read The Full Article 

Thursday
Sep152011

TALES FROM THE POST OFFICE (written in 2002)

The bikes we had as messengers from 1954 - 1958 were MLH 360, RXT 678, MYF 602 and KYT ? And we would like to hear that at least one of them survived.
There were 4 of us at Sidcup Post Office, working as messengers: First Frank Wooler. Frank and I started school in September 1943 at Days Lane Sidcup, and we did all our schooling in the same class until leaving school, then we both went into the Post Office only to split up when we were called up into the R.A.F. in 1958. We even ran into each other whilst square bashing, when he-being the senior to me-hissed at me while marching the other way. After all the years we are still friends - Frank is now in Australia.
Pete Clare: I met Peter before I left school - a bit straight - laced was Pete, but always ready to join in the fun. Pete is a Postman in Devon now.
Mike “Fungus” Hunt was the 4th member of the crew - very tall and slim, and probably the best bike-rider among us. Mike is still in the Post Office doing some job or other!
When I joined this mob we were all on pushbikes and gradually, one by one, we did the motorcycle training. We went out with Mr Suter, who lived in Welling, Kent-a short tubby man who quietly and confidently passed on all the information we needed to survive ( we are all 64 years old now and going strong!) I eventually got to the big day when I was to follow Mr Suter for miles each day. On Sunday mornings two of us had to be on duty 9a.m. - 11a.m.; the motor cyclist would then take the bike to Sidcup Sorting Office where it would be looked in overnight - working or not. Whoever was on duty gave me lessons on how to ride in the yard, so when my week with the instructor came round I at least already knew how to ride - a little bit anyway! After a most ‘pleasant’ week riding in the wet and snow (marvellous what you will go through in the name of enjoying yourself!) I was tested . I can’t remember the bloke’s name, but he was a stony faced, miserable creature and none of us liked him. Anyway, I passed.
On my first day let loose on the poor unsuspecting pubic I had to do deliveries in Blackfen. Going down Queenswood Road, which has a sharp right hand bend at the bottom - which I duly took miles too fast - both wheels sliding sideways, the bike broadsided into the curb and threw me up in the air over the pavement and front fence of a bungalow, to land on my back, winded, in rose bushes. When was able to speak again I had the doubtful task of explaining why, firstly, I was laying down in this mans garden wearing an awry crash helmet and goggles (like Capt. Mainwaring!), and secondly couldn’t I land somewhere better to do it rather than in his prize rose bushes!
Life was not always the laugh that I have painted.
In Sidcup coming along Station Road towards the station , in along line of traffic stationary on the other side of the road, the last vehicle - a high sided box van was stopped about 20 feet this side of the bridge. I was doing about 25 mph in second gear, riding near the centre of the road when a man and his small daughter ran out in front of me. I swerved to my left to miss them both but at the last second he pushed his daughter away from him - straight under my wheels. She was taken to hospital unconscious and remained so for about two weeks. Fortunately she recovered, but at the time of the court case the judge fined me and said he thought I was very unlucky. Unlucky or not, it scared the pants off me!
One of the most enjoyable (but illegal) thing to do was to go on a ’mop’. Two of you get telegrams to deliver, meet down the road and escort each other with the deliveries. I was doing this with “Fungus” one very wet night at about 6.45 pm. We came down the road and round a bend to find a stationary bus. “Fungus” braked to a halt in a straight line. I, using the back brake only, was sliding all other the place and lucky to miss the bus and stay on board the bike. I very quickly came to terms with the fact that if I wanted to survive I had to learn to use the brakes properly - I did and never had that problem again.
We had one bike KYT ---- which was knackered (can you wonder at it?) Also it had completely bald tyres, which all of us had complained about. I was given the task of delivering the wreak to the garage at Bexley Heath to pick up a brand new bike. On the way back it started to rain and only wearing a tunic and trousers, I was anxious not to get too wet. Going up Station Road, Sidcup, opposite the girl’s school I hit a drain cover and slid off. I was ok, but the poor bike with only 3 miles on the clock disappeared under a bus. What came out the other end was still red, but not much of the bike was where it was supposed to be, or in any condition to ever be useful again. I was taken into the girl’s school and given a cup of tea - to my eternal embarrassment.
Speaking of the girl’s school, it was always nice to show off to them. The senior girls were only a couple of years younger than us, so when they came out of school at 4 pm you could usually find us down by the gate, watching all the girls going by, but it was great to have deliveries to do so that we could show off. Pete Clare had this privilege one sunny afternoon. All the girls were there watching us posers and Pete had the honour; what we used to do was 1) start the bike; 2) get maximum revs; 3) pull in the clutch; 4) bang it into 1st; 5) attempt a wheelie for the girls. This Peter did and duly completed 1,2,3,and 4, number 5 proved to be slightly more difficult. Now all you Bantam fanatics will know that although it is pretty rare, it is possible that when the bike is stopped and the piston is in a certain position the engine will start in reverse - which was the problem Peter faced. He dropped the clutch ok and completed an almost perfect forward somersault. Sidcup High Street came to a standstill and the girls and us laughed until we had tears running down our faces - absolutely hilarious. Needless to say Peter was not amused.
Our Postmaster, Mr Witts - a fine man and well respected (except by us lads) said to Frank one day “get your hair cut, young man.” When he returned the Postmaster was waiting for him “where have you been, we’ve been looking for you.”
Frank to Boss - to get my hair cut like you said!
Boss to Frank - “get your hair cut in your own time”
Frank to Boss - “ but it grows in company time”
Boss to Frank - “not all of it grows in company time”
Frank to Boss - “I didn’t have it all cut off”
- at which time the Boss took a swipe at him.
Frank had another run-in with the boss who was quite deaf and wore an old-styled hearing aid slipped in his jacket pocket. There’s Frank, once again in the boss’s office to answer for his crimes.
First Frank spoke loudly, volume down.
Then Frank spoke quietly volume up.
Then Frank spoke loudly volume down.,
and so the interview went on leaving one highly amused messenger and one very frustrated boss!
Two middle-aged spinsters ran the teleprinter office (frustrated-this pair never said a kind word to any of us-what a po faced pair they were) to give us telegrams. They had to open a hatch - we soon had a piece of wood to block that - and the door to their office had bolts on it, on the outside, so if either of this pair upset us in went the block and over went the bolts and us 4 disappearing downstairs, laughing. Many minutes later, 30 maybe, we could hear banging upstairs and a voice yelling “let me out of here” and “open this door immediately” and we would be downstairs laughing helplessly. 45 years later I can still hear their voices and I can still smile!
On a couple of mornings a week a Postman called Les Harman from the Sorting Office would come and supervise us. He was a nice mild - mannered man who we all liked, but Les had a locked drawer (big mistake!) with all his paperwork in. Les could never figure out why it was always covered in oil. We the aforementioned mob, have at last admitted to yet another crime - guess what - we did it with a squirter oil can which was kept downstairs.
Sometimes when we were “bird watching” at the gate we would see this blonde young lady - about 14 years old - pretty as a picture. Long green coat , blonde hair hanging down her back. Sometimes she would stop and talk to us, always gave us a wave - an image I never forgot as she trotted on her high heels past the Police Station in the main road. I didn’t find out for a long time after I left the R.A.F. that this young lady married Frank about 40 years ago.

Don Wiltshire
(with thanks to Frank for his contribution)

Anyone out there knows whether any of the bikes mentioned in the article have
been restored?