Search Post Offices in the United Kingdom – Instructions
This tool is an interface to the data contained in Ken Smith's UK Post Offices by County project, a mammoth undertaking which aims to record details of all the post offices that have been open in the UK over the years (some 37,000 entries). It covers England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – the Channel Islands and Isle of Man should be added at some point, post offices in southern Ireland pre-1922 may be.
The main search looks like below (this is just a picture of the form, so not clickable):
"Office name" is the main use of the search. It will search for any offices that match what you enter – so for example if you search for "Brighton", that will return the well-known town in Sussex (and the less well-known hamlet of that name near Newquay, Cornwall, which had a post office 1896-1908), but also offices with names such as "Brighton Road", "Little Brighton", "Albrighton" and so on. You can of course search for parts of a name if that's all you can read on a postmark (e.g. "ghton"). The search is not case-sensitive.
You can also use the standard "wildcards": a "?" stands for any single character, a "*" for any number of characters (fortunately no post offices have either of those in their names). So for example if you had a poorly struck postmark with a name that started with "Br" and ended with "ton", you could search for "Br*ton" and that would return the Brighton offices (as well as other possible candidates like "Brampton" and "Bridlington"). If you could tell that there were exactly three letters between the "Br" and "ton" you could narrow the search down by using "Br???ton" (that would return "Brighton" and "Brampton" but not "Bridlington").
There are a couple of checkboxes which will extend the search results. The basic search simply looks at office names: checking "Search all fields" will extend the search to include any mention of the search term in the details fields (useful for finding rural offices under a particular head office). For "Brighton" this will return offices such as "Hove", "Portslade", and "Saltdean" which were at some point under Brighton. "Show its sub-offices" is related to this – it will include any town sub-offices of the offices being searched for, regardless of whether the head office name appears in the details. For "Brighton" this returns quite a long list of offices – "Compton Road", "Lower Bevendean", "York Place" and so on.
If you want to search for only offices in a particular county (or country), select that county from the drop-down menu. Since UK counties have been altered on several occasions, most widely in 1974, the names available are something of a mixture – mostly the "traditional" pre-1974 counties, but including modern equivalents where commonly used. Where the county an office was in moved during the time it was open, it should appear in searches for either.
You can narrow down the options by using the date range for opening year, to search for an office that was opened later and/or earlier than specific years. (Searching on closing dates may be added later, but is complicated by the fact that many offices have closed and then reopened – in the modern era, sometimes several times.)
The results will be displayed in batches – you can select the number of results per page from the dropdown. The default way the results are shown is in alphabetical order of the office name, but the buttons allow you to have them listed by head office name first (when "Show its sub-offices" is checked, this will group together the head office and its sub-offices), or by the opening date of the office.