Portsoy Post Office & Jim and Ann Smith

Portsoy Post Office through the ages & Jim and Ann Smith


A Post Office is a great meeting place.  Even nowadays, when letter writing seems to be a thing of the past. Trapped by technology, we communicate mainly by email, text, messaging and Skype on computer or smart phones. Yet, we still need the Post Office when we want to send the odd letter, card or parcel, pay a bill, draw money, collect pensions, etc

Through the years, Portsoy Post Office moved to various locations in the town, like North High Street, The Square, South High Street, Culbert Street, Church Street, before eventually once again settling in Culbert Street.

In small towns it was usual for a Post Office to be linked with a shop, and Portsoy was no exception: a Pharmacy, a newsagent’s have been listed, and from 1972-1977 there was even a café.

When we moved to Portsoy Jim and Ann Smith were ensconced in 2 Culbert Street, and by that time Helen Reid and Anne Milton had joined them at the counter. Jim and Ann had created a friendly ambience and they seemed to know everyone by name.

I found it immensely entertaining to hear the wifies chatting away to each other while waiting their turn, calling from queue to queue:

“Weel, Jeannie, fine day, but cal’. How’s yer mither?”

“Ye ken fine fit like my mither is, Betty, she’s aye moaning aboot a’ thing an’ anither, but I think she’s a’richt, like.”

I’m sure some news was first heard in that Post Office queue.

Jim told me the story of how he and Ann came to live in Portsoy: Ann had recovered from an operation to remove a benign brain tumor. They had been running a Post Office/General Store in St Abbs since their retirement – Jim had enjoyed a wonderful career in the Army, which took them to Singapore and Germany, and Ann was a maths teacher.  Amazingly, she once developed a maths ‘Life Style Programme’ for children who were unable to cope with standard maths, which received full accreditation as a GSE subject!

In 1991, at a chance meeting with the Portsoy postmaster at a Burns’ Supper they learnt that the Post Office was for sale.  For 23 years Jim and Ann ran the Post Office, which was housed in part of their accommodation. Long ago, this used to be a farmhouse and barn!

A wall of ‘pigeon holes’ indicated that it had also been a sorting office. The mail was distributed to Banff by horse and cart. The mail sorting was transferred to Banff on 21 February 1972, where it still is today.

You can read all about it in A History of Portsoy Post Office by James Slater.

In January 2010, Ann sadly died in Campbell Hospital after a fall due to a minor stroke.  In her final years she had walked the length and breadth of Portsoy, first with the Portsoy Ramblers and later on her own. She often came in to our shop to sit beside me for a rest and a blether. Her favourite route was the wee path along the west braes, enjoying its stunning views and I always think of her whenever I walk there in her footsteps.

Portsoy is lucky to have been able to keep its Post Office when so many towns have lost theirs. Jim closed up a few years ago and the building is now only a family home.

Along with Helen and Anne, the Post Office was moved to Seafield Street and is situated within the premises of the ice cream shop.

And it’s still a great meeting place!

Paulina Smith-Honig – August 2012


Slide Show

One Response to Portsoy Post Office & Jim and Ann Smith

  1. I enjoyed reading Ann and Jim’s story. I aye had a blether with Ann whenever we met. She was not onlyinteresting but also an interested lady. Jim, who is a talented artist, attended an art group I used to go to in Portsoy School. I was never particularly good but Jim, Lewis Burnett our tutor and other gifted members were always available for advice. Happy Days!
    Thanks Paulina

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