Blackpool's Post Office Desert
The closure today of the only post office in the town centre following the demise of the WHS outlet on Bank Hey Street behind the Tower building - is the final nail in Blackpool's postal coffin. Perhaps unsurprisingly no alternative outlet exists within the town centre following today's closure. Plenty of coffee venues remain open of course - although government warnings of catching the Covid virus for the sake of a cup of coffee (takeaway even) are intended to dampen even further the readiness of people to frequent the likes of Starbucks and Costa.
Blackpool's solitary post office in the town centre - now closed as of today in a closing down sale of the entire WH Smith operation in the resort.
The basement central post office in WH Smith's store Blackpool - closed as of today. A far cry from the GPO splendour still standing on Abingdon Street
Blackpool doesn't seem to have had much success in maintaining a central post office. The first such venue was located at the corner of Coronation Street close to the Winter Gardens. This was made redundant on the opening of the magnificent General Post Office erected on Abingdon Street in the early 1900s. Still standing but now vacant seeking a new owner and use - the GPO was a friendly welcoming operation with plenty of counters and specialist services, including philately counter for the sale of special commemorative stamps. It closed nearly a decade back and has remained dormant ever since, although tentative proposals emerged to use the building for a hotel and boutique centre. One GPO which does remain as a busy iconic structure is of course on O'Connell Street in Dublin. Its spacious hall is also complete with rows of counters and a philatelic service. Much like Blackpool's GPO the entrance to the GPO in Dublin opens out on to a main thoroughfare; complete with passing trams.
The sale of the Blackpool GPO property - dealt with by the Post Office's real estate management and agents totally ignored the importance of the iconic building and its value to the town centre. Customers needing to claim an undelivered parcel or similar task now have to trek to the outer edge of Bispham and a sparsely occupied business park to retrieve their package or communication. There may be a bus service passing by the location once in a blue moon, unlike the ever frequent passage of Marton trams along Abingdon Street which also boasted several bus routes such as the 3 and 15A. Levelling up of the North was a term unheard of as the resort lost its main railway terminals, General Post Office, international standard swimming pool, airport and industries such as Burlingham Coachbuilders, TVR and aircraft assembly at Squires Gate.
The GPO counter service was instead relocated to corner of a basement of the WH Smith retail store on Bank Hey Street where negotiating narrow steps became an essential facet of collecting and posting mail for Blackpool residents (and visitors). Thankfully that has now moved into the history books (along with the WH Smith brand of doing business). But it does leave the town without a central post office which may be unique in Britain. Plenty of bars and fish and chip offerings, along with low end retail operators helping to dumb down the resort's image.
A new town centre post office might possibly fit into the vacant space on the ground level of the former Talbot Road Bus Station - at one time a veritable hub for Fylde services and now relegated to a gym and little used council car park. Quite evidently someone's business plan hasn't quite worked out.
PS : for what its worth a friendly Post Office can be found in Layton (at the rear of the McColl's outlet) and at Bispham Village roundabout.
Notice of formal closure - and an earlier central post office - favorably commemorated.