Whittlesea’s old post office residence demolished

The old Whittlesea Post Office residence was demolished in mid-June. ​

By Pam Kiriakidis

Whittlesea Historical Society has raised concerns about the old Whittlesea Post Office residence being demolished and the future protection of the original 1925 building.

The house adjoining the post office was home to previous owners Gwenda and Ross White, who took over operation of the old Whittlesea Post Office since 1970. 

After the new post office opened, the property was sold to private owners in 2018.

The City of Whittlesea confirmed the house, demolished in mid-June, was not heritage listed.  

Old Whittlesea Post Office residence covered in snow in 1951. ​

But Whittlesea Historical Society librarian Barbara Miller said it was considered a historical gem of the township.  

“The whole neighbourhood thought that the house had a heritage order as well as the post office,” she said. 

“[It’s] very much of a connection with the local community to Ross and Gwenda and the fact that our history is literally being demolished in front of our eyes and being replaced with modern, concrete buildings, we’ve just lost that whole heritage atmosphere of our main street.”  

John Gibbs originally constructed the post office and residence in 1925, and remained as postmaster until 1960. 

Ms Miller said she wanted to ensure the post office was preserved due to the site being a ‘heritage item’.

“It’s certainly got a lot of memories for people in the community and I think as one of the last few heritage buildings in Whittlesea, it would be lovely to see it put somewhere and preserved,” she said.

“It’s important because we’ve lost so much already.

“If we’re going to turn our back everytime something is demolished and say, ‘oh well it was old’, we have already lost the great bulk of it.

“It’s time to start sticking your hand up and saying ‘not good enough’ and ‘what can we do about it?’.” 

City of Whittlesea chief executive Craig Lloyd said the heritage overlay on the old post office had both internal and external protections.  

“The old post office in Whittlesea is heritage-listed under the Whittlesea Planning Scheme, however the adjacent house was not. A private building surveyor was therefore able to issue a demolition permit for the house,” he said.  

“Any plans for the post office would have to be approved to ensure they comply with heritage requirements.”

While council currently has no plans to provide a home for the historical society, it said they would continue engaging with community members to discuss their wishes, and consideration would be given to any future steps at an appropriate time.  

The old post office is too small to serve as a home to the society, however Ms Miller said the site had potential to be part of its display.  

“We’d love to have it in order to preserve it, the catch being that we don’t have a home, or a location to park it, even temporarily,” she said.  

“Ideally, if we had a museum, which we’d love to have, then it could be parked in the grounds and be a part of our display.”  

The historical society is still searching for a home to store its artefacts, which are currently scattered across the municipality, as well as to build its connection with council.

Whittlesea Historical Society’s annual general meeting is on October 15, at Whittlesea Bowls Club, starting at 1.30pm.