You’re Leaning On It … !

Glenlivet Sub Post Office acquired by the Highland Folk Museum in 2000 with an NFA grant of £10,969.

In 2000 I received a telephone call from Carole Stuart of Glenlivet where her father Tom and grandfather Robert had been carpenters and joiners. They undertook many of the construction tasks required by a rural community, from constructing ‘couples’ (building frames) to making carts and coffins.  Carole said she had to empty their workshop and there might be items of use to the Highland Folk Museum.

Glenlivet sub post office in its original location

Glenlivet Post Office in its original location

On site soon after, having selected objects which included a hand-cranked bandsaw and rolls of wallpaper still in their brown paper package postmarked 1946, we stood chatting in the picturesque landscape. “Of course, we also have the Post Office” Carole said. I said “Post Office?” and she replied “You’re leaning on it!”   Unaware, I was leaning against the windowsill of a small, white unmarked extension to the main stone built house, in other words what had been Glenlivet Post Office.

The interior of the post office

The interior of the Post Office

Carole proceeded to show me into a ‘time capsule’ that her grandfather, the sub-postmaster, had built in 1913 to accommodate his growing business, previously undertaken by the local blacksmith. The comprehensive contents included counters, scales, the original post office clock, still in working order, and ‘postie’ insignia dating from the 1800s.  A further door led into what had been the telephone exchange which still housed furniture for the sorting office. The opportunity to acquire the building, due to be demolished for a new kitchen extension, and purchase the contents was too good to be missed.

The postman with his mail van photographed at Glenlivet in the 1970s

The postman with his mail van photographed outside Glenlivet Post Office in the 1970s

A few weeks later, the purchase completed with welcome assistance from the National Fund for Acquisitions, the museum team, assisted by the then Highland Vernacular Buildings Trust, gathered the contents and proceeded to relocate the building. At the Highland Folk Museum the Post Office was sympathetically reconstructed onto the original Aultlarie farmhouse, home too of the Kirk’s Store sweet shop. Nestling against the farmhouse as if it had always been there, the Post Office added another major artefact to around 30 structures on the 80-acre site.

Glenlivet sub post office relocated on the gable of Aultlarie Farmhouse at the Highland Folk Park

Glenlivet Post Office relocated on the gable of Aultlarie farmhouse at the Highland Folk Museum

Living history interpretation, representing the lives of Highland people, has always been an aim of the Highland Folk Museum. Through the Post Office further opportunities were created when Carole, her sister and the last ‘postie’ all came and provided an additional interpretation experience for the museum’s visitors.

Bob Powell
Principal Museums Officer
Highland Folk Museum

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