Every Friday we’re inviting our experts and guests to share a letter to something they love linked to the post.

Drive-through Post Office at Wharf Street, Leicester (POST122/3954/P7183)

Dear Drive-in Post Office 

When I read and wrote about you, way back in 2013, you seemed like a rather peculiar concept. How odd I thought to expect motorists to drive up to a post office counter to buy stamps and postal orders. Surely such an idea was more in keeping with a fast food joint. However, in these surreal times, when drive-in testing centres and social distancing have become the norm, you no longer seem so outlandish. 

Widely reported upon by the press, you were opened on 11 December 1959 by Miss Mervyn Pike, Assistant Postmaster General and MP for Melton, Leicestershire who was also your first customerMotorists could drive up to you and be served from the comfort of their cars thanks to your location next to a covered roadway. You were equipped with microphones and loudspeakers to enable conversations to take place between the counter clerk, on duty behind a glass screen, and any motorists who drove up, and the counter clerk could take in parcels via a hatch and hand over whatever had been purchased via a tray.  

Unfortunately, the odds were stacked against youSituated at the Wharf Street Branch Post Office under the centre archway of the Wharf Street Telephone Exchange in Leicester your location was not ideal. You were situated away from main businesses and the shopping centre. You also suffered from various design flaws. The archway in which you were sited, for example, was windy so some customers had to leave their cars and chase after purchases that had been snatched from their hands! From 60 to 70 customers visiting you each day this had dwindled to three (and sometimes not even that) by 1963.   

You may ultimately have been considered to be a failure but to me you represent innovation launched as you were at the dawn of the 1960s when so much seemed possible. The building that you were situated in may now be flats, but you live on in our archive, a reminder of some of the weird and wonderful forms that post offices can take. 

Louise Todd


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