Thursday, November 19, 2020

Great Malvern, Worcestershire

What shall we do at quarter to two…

Although I’ve passed it dozens of times, I’ve never photographed the front of the Post Office in Great Malvern. That’s surprising in a way, because it’s a memorable neo-Georgian building, mostly of brick, with a big hipped roof and a central section with three large stone semicircular arches that breaks forward on the ground floor. The contrast between the grand arches – two with windows, one with the doorway – of the central section and the modest remainder of the building makes it all look a bit awkward. But there’s something civic and satisfying about it nonetheless, as there often is with the many neo-Georgian Post Offices built in the 1930s.

As I was passing a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that, even if the front was too cluttered with cars to make a photograph worthwhile, I could at least take a detail of an arch or two. Above the doorway, the classical lettering (not the usual Post Office letterform, but still effective), the big keystone with date and royal monogram, the ironwork, even the little clock all work together. Maybe the clock is too small – I’d guess there was one with a slightly larger face there originally. Maybe the lettering would be clearer with a broader stroke width. But it’s all better than the plastic signage – or, worse, a Post Office stuck in a corner of a high street shop – that we get today. And look at the window arches: little reliefs of Mercury to signify in another way the building’s purpose and to delight the eye.

A quick web search yielded a decent photograph of the whole building. There are still cars outside, true, but the photographer struck lucky with the middle one. It’s a Morgan, a beautiful hand-made English sports car with a classic design. And it was made in Malvern, in a factory that still produces cars with a similar traditional design – it’s the car to see in this town. Meanwhile, as I sit indoors (where I am too often these days) I offer my thanks to the Post Office for its part in keeping the mail coming. This year, mail deliveries have been bringing a rich and strange assortment of goods – from printer paper to teabags, secondhand books to cleaning products – to our door. Such deliveries are just as much a lifeline now as when this Post Office was built in 1935.

Photograph below of Great Malvern Post Office by Bob Embleton CC BY-SA 2.0


Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

These post offices deserve to be commented on. They're often the best building in certain High Streets.

Hels said...

I wondered why a neo-Georgian building would add gorgeous Mercury reliefs in Deco style. As it turns out, Mercury was the god of financial success, commerce, good communication and merchants - perfect for a post office!

Chris Partridge said...

We have a similarly ground post office in Chichester, built in front of the sorting office and the telephone exchange, which of course were then also part of the GPO. The sorting office and the upper floors of the post office are now a budget hotel, and the post office lurks in the back of a shop - I see that in Malvern the process has happened in reverse, with the shops crowding into the post office.