The Blue Bell Inn in Halkyn, Flintshire has introduced a post office counter service in the bar allowing customers to post parcels and letters whilst enjoying a tipple should they desire.
Licensee Steve Marquis contacted the post office to say he’d be happy to take it over after no-one else volunteered following the retirement of the sub-post master three years ago, which resulted in the closure of the village post office.
“I used to live in Bayton in Shropshire and I’d seen what could happen to a village when the post office closed and then the pub went and I didn’t want to see it happen here,” Marquis said.
With help from Pub is the Hub, an organisation of specialist voluntary advisors for rural pubs and licensees thinking of broadening their range of services and rural development agency Cadwyn Clwyd, Marquis contacted the Post Office, received training and opened up the new venture.
The initiative has been well-received by locals who have posted jovial comments on the Blue Bell Inn’s blackboard. ‘What shall we do with the drunken mailer,’ ‘a first class firkin’, and ‘don’t stamp me now’ are among the comments that have been chalked.
Malcolm Harrison, Pub is The Hub Adviser for Wales and a former director of Thwaites brewery said the scheme had done ‘very well’ but encouraged more pubs to get involved in similar projects.
“We want to preserve rural services and the pub is usually the last to go in a village, after the school and the shop,” he said. “We just need landlords and the local communities to think laterally and think of ways to use the pub to host services like the post office here in Halkyn or it could be a shop, even a cinema, a library, an internet café or a crèche.”
Marquis added: “We have had massive support from the local community as well and not just from nearby. We organise guided walks and special events and we have people coming here from over an hour’s drive and they have all been supportive. Some of them drive all that way just to post a letter or get a parcel weighed.”