A Postmaster Looks Back

A Postmaster Looks Back

By Verlie Fowler

[This article was the result of an interview with former Campbelltown Postmaster Thomas Archer by Verlie Fowler]

Mr Thomas Archer was Postmaster from October 1963 until July 1975. During a conversation with Mr Archer it soon becomes obvious that he must have had a flair for organisation, or should I say reorganisation. During his time as Postmaster, Campbelltown grew at an ever increasing rate.

When Mr Archer started at Campbelltown Post Office there were four postmen. By the time he left, fourteen postmen were employed. Likewise, other personnel had multiplied in similar numbers.

This surge of growth resulted in continuous office reorganisation. The office “Bible” which laid out all office functions was continually in need of updating.

As Postmaster, Mr Archer compiled estimates of future needs. However, these estimates were invariably trimmed by higher authorities, with the result that the Post Office seemed always to be behind; there were always delays.

Queen Street and some of the adjacent streets were walking beats for the postmen, whilst in other areas the posties used push bikes. It was about 1968 that motor scooters were introduced.

Originally mail was sent by train. Later Departmental road transport was used, which arrived at 6 am and had a turn around time to take back the day’s mail to Sydney.

One of the difficulties facing postmen was the numbering of streets with duplicate lot numbers, as a result of different small subdivisions. This happened along Waminda Avenue, causing confusion to not only postmen, but also taxis and tradesmen.

When the Bradbury subdivision (Sherwood Hills) was first being developed, Mr Archer would visit the new families. “I would go along and welcome the new families” said Mr Archer. “I’d knock on the door and say – I am the Postmaster of Campbelltown. How do you do? Welcome to Campbelltown.” He would then explain why there would be a little delay in establishing mail deliveries, and ask people to collect their mail at Bradbury Post Office in the meantime. “I told them that if they had any postal problems, to come and see me personally”, recalled Tom Archer.

No wonder residents new to our area in the last couple of decades were so impressed by its friendly “big country town” atmosphere. Of course, with the ever-spiralling pace of development, and new suburbs springing up seemingly overnight, there is no way that today’s Postmaster could hope to present such a welcome!

Mr Archer recalled the opening of the Bradbury Shopping Centre in July 1968. Distinguished guests and entertainers were booked for the opening on the Saturday and promotional circulars were to have been delivered to all the local families.

However, there was a major hitch. There had been a delay with printing of the circulars.

“Was there any way circulars could be delivered, if they were handed to the Post Office on the Thursday evening?”

As it turned out, they were rushed to Mr Archer at the Post Office at 6.30 on the Thursday evening, and at 5 am next morning the postmen came in, sorted and delivered ALL the circulars. Campbelltown’s posties had risen to the challenge, and passed with flying colours. The opening of the Bradbury Shopping Centre was a great success.

Tom Archer can spin many a yarn about country post offices, and here is one of them.

In one country town there was a chap who hadn’t paid his phone bill. “We’ll have to cut off your phone” said the Postmaster sternly. Looking at the account he noted that only the rental was due. There had been no calls. “Of course there’s no calls. That thieving brother of mine couldn’t get any copper wire, so he pinched the wire out of my line. I can’t MAKE any calls!”

Copyright © 2005 Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society Inc. All rights reserved.
(published in “Grist Mills” Vol.1 No. 4, June 1983)