Early days of mail de­liv­ery in Clutha

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

Beat­tie’s store fur­ther east on Clyde Ter­race that Mr MacDon­ald bought af­ter his own build­ing was de­stroyed by fire. An adin the Clutha Leader 1874 ad­vised that Mr John Dunne, the owner of the New­mar­ket Ho­tel in Bal­clutha and Pro­pri­etor of the Royal Mail, left Bal­clutha for Kai­tan­gata Mon­days, Wed­nes­days and Satur­days...

Mr A His­lop was the first to run a coach and horses be­tween Stir­ling and Kai­tan­gata. On Septem­ber 22 in 1876, Kai­tan­gata Post Of­fice was built in Ex­mouth St. It was a sin­gle storey tim­ber build­ing, with W.H. Clay­ton the ar­chi­tect. The first per­ma­nent post­mas­ter was John Owens. The build­ing stood un­til a fire in 2004. The skate­board park is now on this site. Later, a tele­graph of­fice, money or­der and sav­ings bank ser­vices were added. On March 8, 1878, the first tele­phone com­mu­ni­ca­tion in NZ was be­tween Mil­ton and Dunedin.

In 1879, a rail­way tele­graph of­fice opened. Later, it was con­verted to tele­phone when sep­a­rated from the post of­fice. In 1896, there was a pro­posal to es­tab­lish a manual tele­phone ex­change. It is to Kai­tan­gata busi­ness­man Henry Ste­wart Hitchon that the town is in­debted for its tele­phone ex­change, op­er­a­tional in 1891 with six sub­scribers.

By 1907 the post of­fice was old and un­safe. A pro­posed site for a new build­ing on higher land was found, where it stands to­day. In July 1911, the Hon­ourable Thomas McKen­zie laid the foun­da­tion stone. It was of­fi­cially opened in 1912, con­sist­ing of post of­fice, manual tele­phone ex­change, up­stairs ac­com­mo­da­tion and 50 pri­vate mail boxes.

On Septem­ber 15, 1963 there were 1500 spe­cially printed en­velopes with a pho­to­graph of the present post of­fice sold to com­mem­o­rate the cen­ten­nial of the first of­fice. The au­to­matic Tele­phone Ex­change opened in 1964. In Fe­bru­ary 1998, the Post Of­fice closed, and op­er­ated as an agency in a lo­cal shop.

Mr Colin Smith is restor­ing the build­ing, which hosted a re­cent the Kai­tan­gata art ex­hi­bi­tion.

Let­ters should not ex­ceed 250 words and must have a full name, ad­dress and phone num­ber. The news di­rec­tor re­serves the right to edit, abridge or with­hold any cor­re­spon­dence with­out ex­pla­na­tion. Let­ters may be re­ferred to oth­ers for right of re­ply. Email: mary-jo.tohill@stuff.co.nz

RACHEL HARRISON

Kai­tan­gata Post Of­fice, for­merly Coal Point in the early postal ser­vice days.

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