Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Lost Post Offices of Australia - Mayfield (2304)

 In 1881 Mr John Schoely decided it might be a good idea to subdivide some of his property in an area of what was then know as North Waratah. He called his new estate Mayfield, naming it after his youngest daughter May and sold the blocks in large 'on site' auctions with no interest finance. The Mayfield Estate was marketed as a prestegious suburb, with Hunter River frontages, vineyards and easy access to Newcastle either by a 4 minute walk to Waratah Station or a 20 minute sulky drive to the city. Indeed the suburb did flourish, with many prominent citizens moving out to this very exclusive area of Newcastle, at one stage it was even described as 'The Toorak of Newcastle". That was until the arrival of the BHP Steelworks in 1915 and then the modern phrase of "hero to zero" is more appropriate.

Funnily enough though, the Post Office wasn't a strong feature of the towns early development, mainly due to the fact that there was already quite a substantial Post & Telegraph Office operating at Waratah which was close by and servicing the needs of the nearby colliery, so although the Mayfield citizens weren't initially happy with the arrangement, they had to wait until the population grew to accommodate an expansion of postal services.

A Post Office & Money Order Office did eventually open in Mayfield on the 15th October 1910, when Mr A.Clendinning was appointed Postmaster. Unfortunately I have been unable to locate where this first Post Office was located and which will require further investigation in the future. A Mr Ellerton was then mentioned as the next Mayfield Postmaster when he built a new Post Office (combined with his General Store), which opened on the 21st March 1921 on the Cnr Kerr St & Maitland Rd. This was quite a unique building in Mayfield for ALL the materials used inthe construction came entirely from Mayfield and cost £900 to complete. Mr Ellerton is quoted  as saying that he was happy to use local products, even though it cost him an extra £100 in building costs!

On the 11th August 1925, Mayfield at last became an official Post Office with Mr A.C. Battey appointed the Postmaster.

It was between this time and 1938 the Australian Postmaster-General constructed a purpose built Post Office on the Cnr Elizabeth St & Maitland Rd. I tend to think it was around 1938, because from what I can gather a new automatic Telephone Exchange was also listed as beginning operations at Mayfield and so I assume this was at the same time as the new Post Office, but again much more information is needed

After around 30 years of operation, the Postmaster-General once again decided to upgrade its premises and left the old premises vacant (the Police service eventually annexed  the site as the Mayfield Police Station was already operating next door). On the 8th December 1969, the Post Office moved into the brand new building at 125 Maitland Rd (opposite Valencia St) which at the time at a cost of $105,360 to build. These premises were once again refurbished in the early to mid 1980's, with a new street frontage and contemporary colour scheme and it was one of many Australia Post properties that were upgraded to update its staid public image.

However times move on, those cosmetic changes that were fresh and dynamic in the 80's, are now over 20 years old and make the premises look tired and dated.

Mayfield Post Office, now called Mayfield Post Shop, is still operating, serving the good citizens of postcode 2304, as it has done for nearly 100 years and while many changes may have taken place, the one constant in all the turmoil of change is the Post Office, the rock that the suburb of Mayfield is built around.

Congratulations Mayfield Post Office on a centenary of service! 
I'd like to thank the staff at NCC Library & the staff at Newcastle Family History Society for all their invaluable assistance.

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