Post office moves to Working Men's Club in Swarland, Northumberland

Villagers at Swarland will soon be able to buy their stamps while enjoying a visit to their local club

Gordon Hodgson, Secretary of Swarland Village Club which now has a mobile Post Office every week
Gordon Hodgson, Secretary of Swarland Village Club which now has a mobile Post Office every week

They're renowned for serving pints and pies, but soon one Northumberland workingmen’s club will be able to sell its regulars stamps too.

For the WMC at Swarland, near Alnwick, has joined vets, pet shops, pubs, schools and church halls on the list of unlikely settings for a post office.

Post office bosses last night said they believed it could be the first workingmen’s club in the country to host a branch.

The thriving 200-member Swarland club has acted in response to the closure of the village’s general shop, which housed its sole post office, last August.

The community - seven miles from the nearest town - also recently lost a bus service, leaving many members of its largely elderly population, and users of a local caravan site, with no access to either a post office or shop.

Initially the club set up a replacement shop, selling newspapers, eggs and bread, just before Christmas. The shop quickly became a popular meeting place for villagers and something of a hub.

Club secretary Gordon Hodgson then suggested the traditional establishment could also help its community by offering post office services.

Gordon Hodgson with regulars Keith Wilson, middle and Derek Robinson
Gordon Hodgson with regulars Keith Wilson, middle and Derek Robinson
 

National bosses were more than happy to go along with the idea and so, from Monday, the club will open from 8am to 12pm Mondays and Thursdays to sell stamps and allow residents to collect their pensions and pay bills, before enjoying a game of snooker or pool.

The service will be manned by Bryan Hewson, who runs a post office at Amble, with his wife.

Club chairman Keith Wilson last night said the service hours could be altered to suit demand.

He added: “It is a very popular move with most of the residents in Swarland. It provides a service they did not have.”

A Post Office spokesman last night told The Journal he believed Swarland could be the first workingmen’s club in the country to provide branch services.

“It will be very difficult for anyone to say otherwise,” he added.

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith welcomed the return of post office services to the village.

He said: “I am very pleased that post office services will continue to be available in Swarland, although the opening hours have been reduced.

“Post office managers tell me that fewer people were using the counter service when the post office was based in The Square and this is why the new service will only be available on Monday and Thursday from 8am-12 noon.

“But for many people, the over-the counter services is a lifeline, particularly in a rural area, and I am delighted this has been restored. These are post offices often serving communities in isolated areas like Swarland, where their presence is essential. It is crucial that they remain open.”

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