'Homeless' Preston post office finds permanent new base as couple depart after 22 years
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Emma and Dave Brown are bowing out from Cottam Post Office after what Emma describes as a “long and happy shift” of 22 years.
The future of the facility has been uncertain since its Hoyles Lane base was badly flooded in November 2021, forcing it to be converted into a mobile unit within Cottam Community Centre.
The well-known post office pair had already sold up before their shop was damaged, having taken the decision to move on shortly before the flooding hit. But they have stuck around since in order to continue the service from what was due to be its temporary home on Haydocks Lane.
However, with the new owner of the original premises set to operate it purely as a convenience store, the community centre is now seeking planning permission to convert one of its rooms into a permanent post office counter. A new postmaster has been secured for if the plans are approved.
For Emma, that means the time is finally right to leave the much-loved business behind, now that the continuation of its services is signed and sealed - if not quite yet delivered. She says that for her and her husband, it has been more than just a job.
“It has been like an extra child to us over all these years - and we were adamant that we didn’t want to leave the community without a post office.
“That’s why we have persevered for the last 20 months since the flood. It hasn't been easy and there have been lots of hurdles.
“For us, the post office hasn't just been about selling people stamps - we always like to help people out and give them any extra support they need. It’s been like a comfort blanket for us and hopefully our customers,” Emma said.
That is a sentiment which she extends to another aspect of her and Dave’s business, which the couple are set to continue running remotely - delivering newspapers. The seven-day a week operation, covering Cottam, Catforth, Lea and Ingol, will carry on - meaning there is no end to their 5am starts.
“Nobody wanted to take that element over - and for some people, that newspaper might be all they have to look forward to everyday, so we wanted it to continue.”
However, Emma is not turning her back on post office work completely - having already started in her role providing cover for other post offices in the area.
Meanwhile, Cottam Community Centre chair Trevor Hart - one of the city councillors for Ingol and Cottam - says there is “huge support” locally for the post office to get a permanent new base.
“”It looked like it was going to be homeless - and the whole thing would then have been lost. That’s why we stepped in.
“The hope is that we can make it a permanent feature in the centre by doing some work to create a separate, dedicated entrance, so that the post office has no impact on other centre users.
“It’d be in a central location - and I think it'd be ideal,” Cllr Hart said.
Preston City Council will make a decision on the planning application in the coming weeks.