Tuesday, 20 September 2016


Apologies if you have already seen this on my Rambles blog but I thought I should put it here as well.

While in Scotland last week we called at Sanquhar (pronounced SANK-er) Post Office, in Dumfries and Galloway  Established in 1712 it is said to be the oldest continuously operating post office in the world. 

Dr Manzoor Alam, 73, a postal historian and stamp collector from Birmingham, took over as postmaster in July 2015 when the post office came up for sale.

We went inside and chatted to the postmaster’s very pleasant wife and daughter.

The post office was refurbished in 1997.  To celebrate the fact the Royal Mail presented it with a replica Victorian Penfold pillar box.

'...The 1711 Act also empowered the establishment of Cross Posts, services between various towns, not on the main route to Edinburgh or London, and Bye Posts, which served as feeders to and from the Post Towns.
The men who carried the mail on foot were known as runners and they received fixed payments that, in many cases, were substantially greater than the salaries of the postmasters – an interesting reflection of relative values.
One of the earliest Cross Posts that was established was between Dumfries and Ayr, up the Nith Valley via Sanquhar ( pronunciation : SANK-er) and Cumnock.
This service was apparently established in 1712 and it would have been at this time that the present post office in Sanquhar started its long career as a change-house, where the runners rested and were refreshed, and exchanged mailbags before starting on their respective return journeys back to Dumfries or on to the next stage at Cumnock.'

Source: "Sanquhar Post Office, The Oldest Working Post Office in the World" (2005) by Ken Thompson, owner and manager of the Sanquhar post office for 17 years.  I bought a copy of this book at the Post Office and it is quite fascinating.

Near the post office is this blue plaque.

 This is Sanquhar’s 18th Century Tolbooth, now a museum. 


  1. What a strange name, Sanquhar. Doesn't look British at all to me... So just checked Wiki and found it to be from Scottish Gaelic Seann Cathair, meaning "old fort". :)

  2. I wrote about this on the blog some time ago. But it's really really cool that you were actually there!


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