In 1992 Wales's smallest post office was delivered to Amgueddfa Cymru. Thanks to the generosity of Post Office Counters Ltd, who financed the project, the small brick building was dismantled, transported and then re-built at St Fagans National Museum of History by the Museum's specialist re-erected buildings team.

Village post offices have played an important role in community life throughout Wales for the past 90 years. By the 1950s, virtually every village had its own branch, from which mail was distributed, parcels were collected and people gathered to catch up on all the local news. The country postman/postwoman on their bicycle, and later, in the red-painted Morris Minor or Fordson van, helped to keep people in rural communities in touch with one another by maintaining links and regular contact.

Wales's smallest post office at Blaenwaun, Dyfed
Wales's smallest post office at Blaenwaun, Dyfed
Blaenwaen Post Office at St Fagans National Museum of History
Blaenwaen Post Office at St Fagans National Museum of History

The Country Post Office

Of course, country post offices were very rarely housed in the impressive buildings of those found in towns. They usually occupied a corner of the village store or the front room of a house. Sometimes these post offices sold a range of items, but some relied on the sale of stamps, postal orders, licences and savings certificates as their only means of income.

Blaenwaun Post Office, located about eight miles north of Whitland in Dyfed, was one such business. It was built in 1936 by Evan Isaac, a stonemason and his cousin David Williams, a carpenter. The Post Office was run by Mrs Hannah Beatrice Griffiths (nee Isaac), Evan Isaac's daughter, who also ran the pub across the road, the Lamb Inn, with her husband.

Mail was brought daily from Whitland and was sorted at the Post Office on a low bench in the back room. It was delivered to the local community by Mrs Griffiths, who completed the eight-mile round journey on her bicycle before going across the road to work in the Inn. Any customers who arrived at the Post Office when the Griffithses were working in the public house could press a button which rang a bell behind the bar.

The Post Office, which measured just 5m long by 2.9m wide, comprised of two rooms: an outer serving room with a counter and an inner office or sorting room with a small fireplace and a bench under the window. A timber partition wall separated the two rooms. The internal walls were painted chocolate brown to a height of about a metre above the floor then cream to the ceiling, with a broad black band between the two.

A painted sign made of heavy tin sheet on a wooden board was fixed outside above the serving room window. It read BLAENWAUN POST OFFICE. A small post box was mounted against the wall between this window and the entrance door.

In the early days, there was a telephone on the counter for the use of the Post Office and, one assumes, the villagers. Later, a public kiosk was erected outside the small building. In the office was a War Department Receiver for receiving urgent messages in times of emergency.

Following Mr Griffiths' death in the early 1960s, the business was relocated to a new bungalow built by his daughter, Mrs Evanna James. The old Post Office stood empty from that time until it was offered to Amgueddfa Cymru in 1991.

It can be visited today at St Fagans National Museum of History in the 'village' section of the open-air museum, near the bakery and the tailor's shop. It has been refurbished to its war-time appearance, and represents a period of Welsh history not covered in any of the Museum's other buildings.

Comments(19)

Brian Isaac
3 November 2018, 20:29

What a wonderful idea moving the complete post office to Amgueddfa Cymru

I am sending you an email now because by accident I happened to meet the gentleman who did the listing of the building before it was moved at Conwy festival Saturday 27th Oct 2018.We had a long conversation

Evan Isaac was my grandfather and his daughter Beatrice my auntie (father side)

Brings back very happy memories

As I recall the red phone box was between the widows a very minor difference

Caroline Tinnuche
10 August 2016, 17:49
Evanna James is married to my brother Peter. Have very fond memories of Beatrice and spent many a night in the Lamb Inn serving pints from a jug!
Sara Huws Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
10 August 2016, 14:53

Hi Michelle,

Thanks for your comment. I hope you'll come and visit the post office at St Fagans - it is so well loved by visitors and staff. When I worked there I got to look after the building during for one night, during out Christmas celebrations and I won't forget it - and so many people visited to buy stamps, post letters to Father Christmas and have a chat. There was a fire in the grate and it was so cosy. It must have been such a lovely place when your Great Great Grandfather ran it!

All the best,

Sara
Digital Team

Michelle Griffiths
10 August 2016, 12:02
Evan was my great great grandfather and Anna Beatrice my great grandmother
Emma Griffiths
24 March 2016, 21:46
Hi David, apologies I've only just seen your comment.
Beatrice was in fact Anna and not Hannah. I visited yesterday and I'm going to be letting them know they need to change this.

Beatrice and Thomas' son is my grandfather, Eiros Griffiths and then his son is my father, Wyn Griffiths.

I hope you see this!
Lynette Richards
31 May 2015, 15:40
Anna Beatrice Griffiths is my great Grandmother x
Lynette Richards
31 May 2015, 15:39
Anna Beatrice Griffiths is my great Grandmother x
David Davies
10 June 2014, 21:39
I am related to Beatrice
She was my grandfathers brothers wife
I believe that she was Anna and not Hannah ???
My wife currently doing family research,
The name is a census error we believe.
Emma Griffiths, would love to know, how you are related to me, who are your parents
lolly
1 July 2011, 09:14
wow amazing
Amgueddfa Cymru
1 October 2010, 10:16
Dear Alan, thank you for your comment - No, none of the buildings that have been moved to St Fagans were listed.

In fact, it is one of the prerequisites that we only move non-listed, threatened buildings.

That said, several buildings have been listed once they have been re-built here - listed as examples of traditional buildings that have been re-erected in an open-air museum!

Gerallt Nash, Senior Curator, Historic Buildings.

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