Church bids to save West Hampstead post office

Andrew Cain, vicar at St James's Church in West Hampstead, which will be opening a post office. Pict

Andrew Cain, vicar at St James's Church in West Hampstead, which will be opening a post office. Picture: Jan Nevill - Credit: Archant

A church in West Hampstead may soon be selling stamps as well as holding weddings and christenings.

The West End Lane post office branch could close within the next six to eight months.

But it has emerged that it may have found a saviour in St James’s Church, in nearby Sheriff Road, which has applied to run the service from its chapel.

The vicar, Father Andrew Cain, said: “The Post Office has done a visit and said yes, the building is suitable. Without us the post office will go.

“It is a valuable public service and we would like to see it retained.”

Asked how the church came to be considered as a site for the post office branch, Mr Cain revealed: “It began when somebody tweeted asking if there was any retail space available for a post office.

“I said, ‘How about a church?’ and it has gone from there.”

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Mr Cain said the church plans to offer full services, including a bureau de change, and the post office would run in tandem with a café and community centre.

The church will need to undergo renovations so it has disabled access ramps.

The community centre and post office would be run by a separate charitable company.

Under the arrangement any surplus income created by the venture would be put towards funding community activities, such as pensioners’ lunches, a debt advice service, as well as parent and toddler groups.

The centre could eventually employ up to nine people and several would be experienced post office staff.

A Post Office spokesman was not able to confirm the news and said the organisation had “no announcement” about the West End Lane branch.

West Hampstead Amenity and Transport group chairwoman Virginia Berridge said: “We welcome the fact that [post office services] are continuing and that they will potentially be located in community facilities.”