Old Uphall Post Office (now the Open Door)
Uphall post office has a long association with the Brown family – or families. In fact, their history as Uphall postmasters can be traced from at least 1837 when a Wm Brown was grocer, spirit dealer and postmaster, and the post office was in his house - now Chenzo’s. He was followed by Miss Charlotte Brown, possibly his daughter. From 1860 to 1865, the post office was where the dog grooming shop is now, opposite the Oatridge Hotel; then from 1865, at the Open Door site.
For almost all of that time, from 1870 till 1945 - 75 years - just two men, father and son, were postmaster. William L. Brown was appointed postmaster in 1870, and he was also the Inspector of Poor (in charge of administering poor relief benefits to the poor), and also cemetery clerk. As well as all of these jobs, his premises contained not just the post office, but also a drapery shop. When his son James left school, he came into the business and helped his father in all his four jobs. In August 1914, however, the First World War broke out and young James went off to the war. William, by now rather elderly, carried on as postmaster and draper until his son James came back from the war, and took over the postmaster’s job and the drapery business. He was also an elder of Uphall North Church, and for a time was session clerk. In December 1945, James Brown retired as postmaster, bringing to an end over 150 years of the Browns’ service to the post office.
The new postmaster was Alex Douglas, but his time was also interrupted by war, and he served through the Second World War as a captain with the Royal Corps of Signals. The post office remained here until 1993, when it moved up the road into Macfarlane’s newsagent’s shop. The Open Door opened in 1998.
Former West Lothian History Librarian Sybil Cavanagh gave a Guided Walk of Uphall in August 2019. We are pleased to reproduce this article with her kind permission.