Whissonsett post office, which has had just two postmasters in 90 years, to close

A village post office near Fakenham which has had just two people in charge in the past 90 years is to close on Saturday.

The present Whissonsett postmistress, Barbara Weemes, who has been in the role since 1981, is to retire.

Before her, Reggie Nelson was the village postmaster for 59 years, between 1922 and 1981.

The newsagent and shop inside the building will also close.

The Post Office said it was looking to reopen in the area as soon as possible and suggested, in the meantime, that residents used post offices in Fakenham, Weasenham St Peter or Mileham.

This is the latest blow for a village which has, since the 1990s, lost a school, butcher's shop, village store and, more recently, its last pub.

Village archivist Ann English, 74, said: 'This is the end of an era for Whissonsett. The post office had been in its current building since 1916 and it is amazing that, for the last 90 years, there have only been two postmasters. It must have been an enjoyable job for them to stick at it for so long. The post office was a meeting place, a social centre, a box office, an information centre and people would even collect their medicines from there.

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'With all the other services the village lost this is a major blow and it has happened so suddenly.

'But I don't blame Barbara and her husband. They have provided a wonderful service for 32 years.'

Whissonsett's first postmaster was Sarah Hoy, in 1861, and the village has had just six in all.

She died in 1870 and the first official Whissonsett post office was set up at the family home of a man named James Thing in London Street in 1871. He died in 1907, aged 90, and his daughter, Lucy, took over. She retired in 1916 and the post office was moved to its current High Street location.

Mr Pull was the postmaster from 1917 to 1922 and then Mr Nelson, who was his son-in-law, ran the post office until 1981 when Mrs Weemes took over.

In an interview for the village archives, carried out in November 2000, Mr Nelson's wife Monica said she believed her husband to be the first person in Whissonsett to own a car. She said: 'We had a petrol pump by the post office for people to use as more cars got about. It got wrecked once when Dick Drury filled up and drove off with the hose still attached. It was there until 1984 when it was declared to be a fire hazard.

'During the war the Home Guard kept their stirrup pump at the post office. It was only used once, in 1940, when someone's house caught fire.'

adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk

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