Market town left without a bank or post office is given lifeline by 15th Century inn which brings back vital service
- The Black Swan, in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, has opened a post office counter
A 15th Century inn has stepped in to provide a lifeline for a market town left without a bank or post office.
The Black Swan in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, has been at the heart of this rural community for centuries and today a post office counter opened there – restoring a vital service that ended a year ago.
The busy town at the gateway to the North York Moors National Park saw its last bank, Barclays, close 18 months ago and the temporary post office in a Cosstcutter store shut suddenly when the company went into administration last August.
Now a campaign to restore postal services backed by residents and local businesses has resulted in a new counter opening in a hallway of the hotel and pub in the town centre.
The counter will be open for three hours every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, providing full post office services, including cash deposits and withdrawals, until another permanent premises can be found.
Alison Sigsworth serves customers at the post office in the Black Swan pub, Helmsley, North Yorkshire
The Black Swan pub, Helmsley, North Yorkshire, which now hosts the post office after the market town was left without one
The Black Swan in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, has been at the heart of this rural community for centuries and today/yesterday a post office counter opened there – restoring a vital service that ended a year ago
Andrew Robson, spokesman for the Inn Collection Group who own the Black Swan, said Helmsley Post Office would remain for ‘as long as it takes.’
He said the Black Swan ‘has a long history’ in Helmsley and offered to help when they heard about the campaign to bring back a post office.
The new counter was said to be ‘pretty busy’ on the first morning of business with about 20 customers during the first 90 minutes of business.
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‘It’s been a very smooth process and definitely something for other rural communities to think about,’ said Mr Robson.
Local Tory councillor George Jabbour who helped secure the deal said everything went ahead quickly once the Post Office had secured funding.
There are no banks remaining in Helmsley, but there is a cash machine and a Nationwide Building Society branch.
Mr Jabbour said: ‘Businesses rely on banks in a busy market town such as this and that has been a problem since Barclays closed.
‘People are having to go to other towns, travel a long distance and take extra time off work to deliver or receive cash from nearby towns and that is obviously far from ideal.
Andrew Robson, spokesman for the Inn Collection Group who own the Black Swan, said Helmsley Post Office would remain for ‘as long as it takes’
The new counter was said to be ‘pretty busy’ on the first morning of business with about 20 customers during the first 90 minutes of business
‘The issue is a long-term one affecting many parts of the country, but we are absolutely delighted that we now have this post office counter reopening in Helmsley because of the essential service it provides to businesses and residents.’
Ian Murphy, Post Office Network Provision Lead, said: ‘We are delighted to soon be restoring a Post Office to Helmsley as we know how important a Post Office is to a community and how sorely missed this branch has been.’
The Black Swan dates from the 15th Century with different parts of the inn dating back to Elizabethan and Georgian times. It was bought by the Inn Collection Group in January 2020.
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