A unique museum dedicated to the history of the postal service and correspondence will continue to spread its word in new premises at a working post office.
Running costs are forcing Bath Postal Museum out of its historic home in the Old Bath Post Office, from which the first stamped letter is said to have been posted.
"It’s the only alternative," said Steve Bailey, the museum administrator. "It’s a shame – we’ll have to downsize – but that’s better than having to close."
This model shows how 8 Broad Street would have looked as a working post office. Courtesy Bath Postal Museum.
The museum had been threatened by a cut in its rent subsidy, which meant that an extra £20,000 a year would be required for it to remain at 8 Broad Street.
Staff and supporters are unhappy that the collections will be removed from the place where, in 1840, the first stamp was used by the postmaster to send a letter.
It had been hoped that the museum could continue operating at Broad Street by moving to the first and second floors of the building, but the offer of a 15-year lease in the basement of Bath’s main post office, at a more affordable rate, could not be turned down and the museum trustees are delighted.
Bath Postal Museum tells the story of correspondence as far back as the ancient Egyptians. Courtesy Bath Postal Museum.
In a statement, the trustees said: “Whilst we were reluctant to leave 8 Broad Street with its historical associations, there seemed to be no hope for our earlier plans to move to the higher floors of the building. We will, however, be allowed to remain in Broad Street until the new building is ready.”
The new home will not be ready until 2006, as the post office is being redeveloped. When it opens its doors, the trustees hope that there will be a rise in visitor numbers because of the location.
“Our new premises will share an entrance in Green Street with the main post office so that we should benefit from the "footfall" of post office customers,” they said, adding that “Bath & North East Somerset Council has promised that the [Broad Street] site will be suitably commemorated.”