Halifax Post Office

I have several vintage postcards featuring Halifax Post Office in my collection, which is only right and proper as it is a fine looking building. The building – and the postcards – date from a time when there was a degree of local pride in such public buildings, and post offices were seen as a local outpost of the state. Not only did they sell stamps, but they also issued official documents and acted as a bank for many ordinary citizens. Post offices were not something to hide away in some back street or in the rear quarters of a bookseller.

The building still exists, of course, but it is now a pawnbrokers shop which says so much about the state of modern Britain that you could write a PhD thesis on it. It was designed by the architect Henry Tanner whilst he was serving as Surveyor at the Leeds Office of Public Works and opened in 1887. A contemporary newspaper report says that it “is a spacious building and has capital frontages to Commercial Street and Old Cock Yard”. The cost of the building was £10,000, exclusive of the cost of the site.

Henry Tanner did not stay in Leeds for long. By the time the new Halifax Post Office was opened, he had returned to London and he want on to design many famous public buildings. He was knighted in 1904 and lived until 1935 when he dropped dead walking through his own front door one day at the age of 88. His obituaries were sadly brief and concentrated on such things as his Chairmanship of the Royal Sanitary Institute and his Presidency of the Concrete Institute. Fine as these eminent positions may have been, I prefer to think of him as the man who designed Halifax Post Office.

The postcard which provides my illustration is a new addition to my collection, and the photograph must date from at least 100 years ago. Nevertheless, this is the post office I remember, right down to the clock in the lower left hand window. If I do fall on hard times, I suppose I could always take my vintage postcard of the post office into the post office and see if they could give me a loan based on its undoubted value.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s