ALL EYES were on the world’s oldest Post Office this week when a ribbon-cutting was staged to formally welcome new proprietors to the Upper Nithsdale attraction.
Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell and his son Oliver, constituency MSP, were invited to officiate at the ceremony, also attended by a senior representative from Post Office Counters Ltd.
New postmaster at Sanquhar, Barry Ford, working alongside his wife Mary, recently took over the branch, which has remained at the same site since opening in 1712 and features in the Guinness Book of Records.
The couple, already becoming well-kent faces in Upper Nithsdale, have also received national and international media attention, including in France, since acquiring the business.
Lincolnshire-born Barry and Mary, a native of north Lanarkshire, returned to the UK after 20 years in the USA and, seeking a new business challenge, noticed the Post Office at Sanquhar was available.
Both have an interest in postal history and the wider philately world.
They took over following the retirement of Postmistress Nazra Alam, who along with her late husband, postal historian Dr Manzoor Alam, who died last year, successfully operated the branch from 2015.
Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell said: “I was delighted to be invited to formally mark a new chapter beginning at Sanquhar Post Office and was struck by Barry and Mary’s passion and enthusiasm for their new role.
“They have both embraced the historical significance of the branch and are keen to develop that theme further, hopefully encouraging more visitors to the local area.
“As the 17th owners and operators they are building on a fine tradition and I know at the core of their plans is maintaining what is a valuable and relevant Post Office counter service.”
Mr Mundell, who highlighted Sanquhar Post Office in the House of Commons, added: “I was interested to learn that Mary, during research, has discovered that her ancestors have links with the Upper Nithsdale area. The couple’s enthusiasm for their new home is clear to see.”
Meanwhile, Oliver Mundell MSP said: “The Post Office in Sanquhar is an important focal point in the community and I wish Barry and Mary well as they pick up the baton to carry this historic branch forward into a new era.
“They rightly recognise the visitor appeal and I’m pleased the Post Office nationally appear supportive of developing the heritage aspect further.
“This remains primarily, however, very much a working post office and the ongoing support of local customers is as vital as ever to the future of the business.”