In 2021, Clacton-on-Sea celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding. Following the opening on Clacton Pier and the Royal Hotel a year later, the new town began to grow at a fairly rapid rate beginning with new houses and shops being built along the lower portion of Pier Avenue.
To cater for this growing town, public services gradually began to spring up and in 1874, three years after its founding, the town got its first Post Office, built on the corner of what is now Station Road and Pallister Road. It was a sub post-office and consisted of a counter inside Mr Shadrach Sparling’s baker shop, with Shadrach Sparling became the town’s first postmaster.
It was, in fact, the first shop ever to be built in Station Road, though, at the time, the name Station Road did not exist and the address of the Post Office was given as Pier Avenue.
Over the next few years, the sub post office moved location several times, the first move being to Mr Ubsdell’s stationery shop, at no.1 Pier Avenue, next door to the Royal Hotel. In 1888, he was advertising that the Post Office was open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sundays. Mail was delivered twice a day at 6:30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m., while the letter box was cleared at 12.20 p.m. and 6.15 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays. An extra collection was made at 7 p.m. during the Summer.
By 1894, the Post Office had moved back to Station Road, this time to Mr Wallis’s Annuity and Insurance Office. Deliveries had increased to five a day, starting at 7 a.m., with the last delivery at 6.45 p.m.
In 1901, Clacton-on-Sea was designated the head office for much of the Tendring area and a purpose built Post Office, under the new postmaster, Mr W T Pinkney, was built in the newly opened shopping development, known as Electric Parade, now just part of Pier Avenue. This head office oversaw four sub post-offices in Clacton, at Magdalen Green, run by Miss Woodard, Rosemary Road, under Mr Cunningham, St Osyth Road, in Mr Saltmarsh’s shop and Mr Baynton’s office in Station Villas in Station Road as well as one in Great Clacton, run by Mr Mead.
The Post Office remained at no. 9 Electric Parade for the next 21 years, at which time it moved off to its new home in High Street under postmaster, Mr H F Rolfe. This building was extended some years later up to the Beach Road junction, returning along Beach Road. Meanwhile, the Post Office building in Electric Parade was taken over by W. H. Smith, who have remained there ever since, becoming the longest lasting business in Clacton to occupy the same premises.
This was to remain the home of Clacton’s Post Office for just under 100 years until 2018, when the Post Office was moved back to one of its earlier sites, W. H. Smith’s in Pier Avenue, and become once more just a counter in another shop.