AceHistoryDesk – The future of the world’s oldest operating post office in southern Scotland has been secured after new owners were found.
Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Sept.17: 2023: BBC Scotland News Report: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
Barry and Mary Ford were living in Florida when they first heard the Sanquhar site was up for sale.
The town’s post office first opened in 1712 and has been in continuous operation since then.
Mr Ford said he was proud to become just the 17th postmaster in the site’s long history.
The news brings to an end a four-year search for new owners after the post office was put up for sale in late 2019.
Barry Ford is just the 17th postmaster in more than 300 years at the Sanquhar site
The couple take over the branch from Nazra Alam who had run the post office along with her late husband, Dr Manzoor Alam, who died in November last year.
Lincolnshire-born Mr Ford and his wife Mary, from Motherwell, had been living and working in Florida for 20 years when they first heard about the historic site being for sale in 2020.
They returned to the UK to look after their elderly mothers who have both since died.
The Fords were initially outbid for the post office but when that deal fell through they jumped at the chance to take over.
Mrs Ford has since discovered a connection to the area as her ancestors came from Muirkirk – about 25 miles by road from Sanquhar.
Visitors come from around the world to have their letters stamped
Mr Ford said: “It is a complete different career change for the pair of us – there is a lot of stuff to learn.”
“It’s important to us to keep it going for the local area for tourism and for the community,” added Mrs Ford.
“We don’t want it to close if we can keep it going – especially for the local community because so many other branches of banks are closing.”
Mr Ford said they had found Sanquhar to be a “very thriving community”.
“We just hope we can be accepted into it and be part of it,” he said.
Post Office chief executive Nick Read paid tribute to Dr and Mrs Alam for running the site for the past eight years.
Nazra Alam thanked her customers for their “banter” over the years
“Nazra continued running the branch for the Sanquhar community, and the thousands of tourists who visit every year, through her grief and throughout the Covid pandemic,” he said.
“Nazra has been a remarkable postmistress and I hope she enjoys a happy retirement surrounded by her children and grandchildren.”
Mrs Alam said her late husband had been fascinated by the postal history of the town.
“The people of Sanquhar are lovely and the scenery in all directions is beautiful,” she said.
“Manzoor and I loved our time in Scotland, but the winters were too cold for us.
“I give my heartfelt thanks to the people of Sanquhar who have been very kind to us over the years and for their custom and banter that kept me going.”
The post office has been in operation since 1712
She also thanked the staff who had worked for them.
Sanquhar Post Office is accredited by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the world’s oldest post office.
Many visitors come to have their letters marked with a special handstamp bearing “The World’s Oldest Post Office”.
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