Headington’s Post Offices
Headington’s first post office: Old High Street
Old Headington post office: postcard supplied by Ian Garrett
Headington’s first post office opened in the 1840s in Old High Street (site uncertain), and initially the villagers Quarry, and then from the 1950s those of New Headington, had to trek here to purchase their stamps. James Waring (who was also the Master of the Free School in Quarry) is listed in directories as sub-postmaster in Old High Street in 1847, and as postmaster thereafter.
The auction of this freehold property was advertised in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 28 June 1856 as follows: “The HOUSE now used as the Post Office, in the occupation of Mr. Waring, which contains four rooms and bakehouse, with large oven.” It remained the post office after the sale, and Waring continued as postmaster until his death at the age of 87 in 1874. His daughter Jane Waring was listed as a postmistress in the 1861 census, and is seems likely that as he became older she and subsequently other younger people actually did most of the work.
In 1874 this post office was taken over by James Rudd, a coachman servant, who ran it in the grocer’s shop on the corner of Old High Street and St Andrew’s Road (above). He died at the age of 40 in 1883, and his widow Mary Ann became grocer and postmistress. By the time of the 1891 census her daughter Edith was the telegraphist there and her daughter Jessie an assistant; and by 1901 her assistant was her son Harold Edmund Rudd. By the time of the 1911 census Harold was married and running the grocer’s shop and post office himself.
From the 1880s each of the three villages of Headington had its own post office. This one in Old Headington that originally served the whole area was the first of the three to close when in 1915 Headington's first central post office, which could offer modern facilities such as the telegraph, opened. Harold Rudd was kept on as sub-postmaster at the new building.
The old Post Office depot behind was demolished in 2016 and a new extension built.
Headington's first Central Post Office
Headington’s first central Post Office opened in 1915 in a purpose-built office with accommodation above on the south-west corner of Windmill Road; and there was a fine semi-detached house to the west.
Headington Post Office and adjoining house on the corner of Windmill Road in 1915. Note the telegraph pole outside. They were demolished in the 1980s to make was for the present Caffè Nero block.
This new post office was described in directories as a “Post and Money Order Office, Telegraph Office, Savings Bank, Public Telephone & Express Delivery & Annunity & Insurance Office.” It remained in this building on the corner of Windmill Road until 1934.
Right: Headington postmark of 1923
Headington's second Central Post Office
In 1934 Headington Post Office moved across the road to the present 117 London Road (now Istanbul Barbers), where it stayed for just eight years.
Headington's third Central Post Office
In 1942 Headington's Central Post Office moved to 142 London Road (the right-hand house of a semi-detached pair that had been build in 1926, above), and from this date was a Crown Post Office with a postmaster rather than a sub-postmaster.
In the 1950s it expanded to include the house next door to the left (144).
It ceased to be a Crown Post Office in the 1990s and became smaller, retreating out of part of the house on the right as well as the adjacent annexe, and this became a household goods store.
Headington's main Post Office closed on 13 February 2016, and reopened in the nearby Co-op supermarket on 15 February 2016.
Quarry post office
Quarry originally just had a letter-box in the wall of the Free School beside the Chequers pub.
Its first post office opened in an unknown house in 1881, and the following year it moved to the Yews in Quarry High Street.
In 1892 moved back to the house currently numbered 20 Beaumont Road. The 1911 census shows George James Cooper as shopkeeper and postmaster, living over the office with his wife Kate, who was the sub-postmistress, and their only child Kathleen Emily (3). Kathleen did not marry, and continued to run the post office in Beaumont Road until her death in 1962.
Right: Headington Quarry postmark of 1908
Lois East who ran the Pitts Road General Store then took on the post office in that shop: for more information, see her reminiscences.
The Pitts Road Post Office in 1983
This shop closed in the mid-1980s, and the post office facility was then moved to the convience store on the corner of Gladstone and Trafford Road.
The decision to close Quarry Post office was made at the end of 2003:
- Oxford Mail, 17 November 2003: “Post Office will close for good”
New Headington/Highfield Post Office
New Headington had a post office (known as Highfield Post Office) at the grocer’s shop at 74 Lime Walk (NW corner of the crossroads) from about 1890 to 1947. It then moved to the dairy in All Saints Road, where it remained until 1984.
The picture above shows Joseph Draper standing outside Highfield Post Office in Lime Walk (which was also a baker’s shop) in about 1905. The 1911 census shows him here at the age of 66, described as a baker & shopkeeper, with his wife Emily (61) and his three unmarried daughters: Edith (36) and Alice (31) assisted him in his business, while Ethel (25) was a telephonist.
Headington postal delivery office
Headington delivery office (above) opened at the top of Lime Walk in c.1938 in part of the telephone exchange building. The exchange moved across the road to its present site in c.1955, and the sorting office closed in 2005 and was demolished to make way for flats.
In the 1950s there were six sub-post offices in the Headington area:
- Highfield Post Office, All Saints Road
- Merewood Avene Post Office, Sandhills
- Risinghurst Post Office, Downside Road
- The Slade Post Office, 3 Cinnaminta Road
- Headington Quarry Post Office, 20 Beaumont Road
- Post Office, 25 Eden Drive.
There does not appear to have been a sub-post office at Barton at this date.