Moss Vale's post office has a fascinating history. Today near the railway station stands the old Post and Telegraph building, erected in 1891, now a café/restaurant.
The Historical Officer of the Postmaster-General's Department provided a history of Moss Vale's postal services in the Berrima District Post of January 8, 1965. As noted in the previous article, it stated that Moss Vale's first postal service was in Mr Clifford's premises from December 1867. Lewis Levy became postmaster in 1870. He owned a store on Old Argyle Road next to the hotel (today's Jemmy Moss) on the Berrima Road (now Waite Street) corner, the early town's major intersection. The Moss Vale stationmaster, Somers, was successful in having the post office moved to the station in 1871 with him as postmaster. Extracts from the PMG history continue here.
The Telegraph Department opened a telegraph office at Moss Vale on September 1, 1871, situated in a room rented for the purpose. At the railway station, postal business was conducted in a partitioned portion of the ticket office, without a signboard to indicate the post office, and with no records of mails kept. Most of the postal work was carried out by Somers' son with the occasional help of a railway porter. In March 1872 Somers was replaced as stationmaster by M Hornidge, who was in turn succeeded by Thomas Parkes that October. Parkes resigned six months later, advising that the post office work was interfering with his railway duties.
On April 1, 1873, Lewis Levy was reappointed postmaster and the post office was returned to its former location in his store. He resigned shortly after, as he was leaving the district, and nominated his step-son, Henry William Taylor, as his successor. Taylor, who had actually been running the general store, became its owner and was appointed postmaster on July 1, 1873. He also held contracts for mail collection and delivery by horseback between Moss Vale and Berrima (12 times/week), and to and from Bowral, Burrawang, Robertson, East Kangaloon and Kangaloon (three times/week). In September 1876 a branch of the Government Savings Bank was opened at his post office.
By 1879 consideration was being given to placing postal and telegraph work under the control of one officer. Pitt, Son and Badgery wrote to the PMG: "Thomas Cosgrove of Moss Vale has placed his hotel in our hands for sale and as we believe it would be a good investment for the Government to be used as post and telegraph office, police office etc, we would be glad to know if the Government would entertain a purchase." The hotel was the Tattersall, later renamed the Central.
Rather than take up the offer, in June 1879 a newly constructed weatherboard shop and dwelling was leased from the Hon Alexander Campbell MLC for use as a post and telegraph office. Situated 50 yards south of Levy's store and across Argyle Road, it was about opposite where the still standing School of Arts building opened in 1891.
The new postal premises consisted of a large double-fronted shop with front and rear verandahs and three large rooms at the side. Neil McIntosh, the 22-year old telegraph station master, commenced telegraph business there on June 6, 1879, and was placed in charge of the amalgamated offices on June 30. He was paid 104 pounds telegraph salary and 23 pounds postal salary, plus a commission on the sale of postage stamps. Approval was given for the employment of an assistant and to retain the services of the telegraph messenger. The Postal Inspector mentioned at the time that 176 mails were sent and dispatched weekly and that night work was "very severe".
On February 12, 1883, John Parke, formally of Parkes, was appointed Posts and Telegraph Master at Moss Vale. As the town was growing rapidly, the office opened from 8.30am to 8.15pm (with additional hours during the night for mails) and Parke was assisted in the post office by his mother. He asked for an increase in salary in 1883, complaining of the long hours he was on duty. He was granted an increase of 12 pounds per annum, and from October 13 an additional assistant, Thomas White, was employed.
The Postal Department decided in the 1880s that the expanding town required a new Post and Telegraph Office to be located near the railway station.
- Berrima District Historical & Family History Society - compiled by PD Morton. Part 2 of a 3-part series. To be continued.