We still don’t know exactly what lies in store for an important local museum collection that lies behind closed doors in the basement of what was the city’s main Post Office – just across the road from Waitrose.
The privately-run Bath Postal Museum – which has now closed – was established by the late Audrey Swindells who, together with her late husband, made a huge contribution to Bath’s heritage.
Bath’s role – in the development of the postal service in this country was huge. Both Ralph Allen and John Palmer were major players in the service. The first Penny Black was posted from the city too!
Bath & North East Somerset Council says it’s supporting the Trustees of the Bath Postal Museum as they assess the future of the museum after its recent closure.
Initially the museum, which tells the story of written communication and contains many rare and valuable artefacts, was established in the basement of the couple’s home in Great Pulteney Street.
The collection moved to the Old Post Office Building in Milsom Quarter in 2006 but is now closed. During the closure the Museum’s Trustees will take the opportunity to plan for its future.
Councillor Paul Roper, cabinet member for Economic and Cultural Sustainable Development said: “Audrey’s passing is a sad loss to the city. She curated a wonderful collection and over the years the Postal Museum has inspired, informed and entertained many visitors. On behalf of the council, I’d like to pass on my condolences to her family and friends.”
Work is under way to deliver a new Fashion Museum, located in the Old Post Office, as part of the council’s Milsom Quarter Masterplan, however the Postal Museum has not been asked to leave its location because of these proposals.
A member of the Postal Board of Trustees said: “Our Trustees are sad to recognise that it will not be possible for the museum to continue and have taken steps to close it as sympathetically as possible.
Our lease has come to an end, and we cannot find alternative premises that are suitable. In addition, we have recently lost several volunteers and would find it impossible to staff the museum. Some of our artefacts will now be relocated to other museums and others will be located in the Bath Record Office. We are grateful for the support of the council in helping us manage this transformation.”
Councillor Roper added: “The council is saddened to hear of the tough decision taken by the Postal Museum to close. We will support the museum to close down their affairs in an orderly manner and we hope to be able to provide a home for some of their Bath-related collections.”
The council is committed to the independent museum sector in Bath and has let space in the Old Post Office to the Postal Museum rent-free since taking ownership of the building in November 2022.