In 2014, Stonehouse History Group was delighted to be given the original ceremonial key from the official opening of the Stonehouse Post Office building. The building was taken over by the Town Council in 2002 and initially housed both the Post Office and the Town Hall. In 2016 the Post Office moved into the Co-op supermarket and the County Library moved its branch from Elm Road to the High Street building. The new library opened in April 2020, having been delayed by the Covid pandemic.
In 1933, builders A R Blick and Son designed and built a new Post Office using local craftsmen and materials including bricks from the Stonehouse Brick and Tile Co. It was built in the garden of Barnard House, owned by Mr Blick, on the corner of Queen’s Road and the High Street. The new building was seen as a credit to both the postal authorities and the contractors and a symbol of the growing prosperity of Stonehouse and its district. As such it warranted a grand opening on November 2nd 1933.
The opening was attended by representatives of the local community.
The guest of honour was GPO Public Relations Officer, Sir Stephen Tallents.
An article in the Stroud Journal featured this quotation from his opening speech.
“Sir Stephen Tallents said that although he was a little doubtful as to how a post office should be opened, he was quite sure that a fine new post office such as the one Stonehouse now possessed should not be allowed to just “slink” into the world, opening its shutters one morning without a word of explanation or warning. It should be opened with an air of distinction!”
He hoped that the growing prosperity of Stonehouse and its district would fill their new office quickly to the brim with business.
Mr Leo Blick then presented Sir Stephen Tallents with a souvenir key and Lady Marling was presented with a bouquet of flowers by three-year-old master Alan Blick.
The key was kept at Sir Stephen’s house – St John’s Jerusalem, a 13th century manor house which he later donated to the National Trust. When the family moved out of the house, Sir Stephen’s grandson, Jason Pemberton-Pigott, discovered the key and gave it to his old friend Mark Heywood, who lives near Stonehouse.
In 2014, postman Paul Dicker, a member of Stonehouse History Group who used to work on the Haresfield round, mentioned to Mr Heywood that he used to work at the Stonehouse Sorting Office. So Mr Heywood told him about the key and offered it to the Group. Paul said immediately that the Group would be delighted to have the key for permanent display in the Town Hall beside the information board about the history of the building. Mr Heywood agreed to attend the next SHG meeting along with Freddie Pemberton-Pigott (Sir Stephen Tallents’ great-grandson) to present the key. We asked Valerie Blick, whose husband’s family originally presented the key, to receive it on behalf of SHG.
Dr Pemberton-Pigott said that he was delighted that the key had returned to its original home and he was pleased to present it to Mrs Blick. The silver-gilt key is inscribed with Stonehouse Post Office and the date of the opening ceremony.
Stonehouse History Group had a secure presentation box made to display the key on the wall of the Town Hall. When the Library moved in, the key was moved to the new Council Office and is now on display along with the Information Board about the history of the Opening of the Post Office. We are grateful to the Town Council for moving the board and key so that they can be viewed by everyone who visits the Council Office.