Baxter Gate

He owned the Post Office, Post Masters residence and garden in Baxter Gate, which was located on the north-west side of the street, opposite the Old Angel Inn. It had a large garden to the rear, bordering School Passage, which ran from Baxter Gate to Church Gate.

 

 

In 1883, the Post-Office comprised of just two small rooms and an entrance lobby. Whilst the rural postmen sorted their mail on three fold-down tables on the public side of the counter[1].

In February 1887, Thomas Messenger received approval to build a new sorting-room and parcels room at the Post-Office[2]. Several months later, in May, he received further permission for a new post-office and new postmaster’s house. The Local Board also took it on themselves to write to the Postmaster General with reference to the “insufficiency of some of the accommodation provided”[3]. The plans for the new Post-office required the Board to purchase a piece of land in front of the Post-office. Thomas Messenger submitted an invoice for £32 for the land, which he calculated at a rate of 15s. per square yard; a price that the Board thought excessive, instead suggesting a figure of £30. Eventually both parties agreed a compromise of £31[4]. On 25th March 1885 Thomas Messenger entered into am indenture with David Astill, who was the postmaster and had been since before 1864[5]. Later, David Astill, probably on his retirement, was a tenant of Thomas Messenger, living at No. 41 Park Road, where he died, aged 74, on 31st March 1891[6].

In 1895, Thomas Messenger submitted another set of plans for alterations and additions to the Post-office, which were approved subject to amendments[7].

 

Post Office site, Baxter Gate, Loughborough – 1884 Town Plan

 

Thomas Messenger still owned the Post-office, residence and garden at the time of his death. It was included in the sale of 1920[8], being described as the “Loughborough General Post Office” and was almost three years into a seven-year lease with the Post Master General, valued at £200 per year. Fronting onto Baxter Gate, the Post Office had, on the ground floor, a 35ft. by 16ft. 6in. general office, an 80ft. by 18ft. sorting room with lantern roof, two retiring rooms and a boy messenger’s room. On the first floor were two battery rooms and the Telegraph Office. Adjoined at the rear was the former residence, which, at the time, was being used as offices. On the ground floor was an entrance hall, three separate staircases, the superintendent’s room, sorters’ room and “Line men’s” room. On the first floor were two bedrooms, then used as storerooms, a bathroom, lavatory, a W.C.’s., Postmaster’s office and another retiring room, with W.C. The second floor held three further bedrooms. A basement with cellars ran under the whole property with a stoke hole. In addition, the property was described has having a “draw in gateway”, cycle shed, sculleries, coal bunkers and a large garden. The property had a frontage onto Baxter Gate of 48ft., including the gateway and occupied an area of a little under a third of an acre[9].

The sale notice suggested that the property was suitable for either conversion to a business premises or a site for a small factory, although it was subject to “certain rights to light and air and to support and eavesdrop over the north-east side of the lot claimed by the adjoining owners[10]. At the auction, bidding started at £900 rising to £2,600, where it was withdrawn, failing to reach its’ reserve.

Following the opening of a new Post Office on Sparrow Hill in 1930[11], the old Post Office was offered to the Loughborough Town Council by Sir Albert Black. He turned down the initial offer of £4,000 but later accepted an improved offer of £4,300 including legal fees[12]. Interestingly the Borough’s Abstract of Accounts for 1933[13], shows that the Council had agreed a loan figure of £4,425 on the property, although actually only borrowing £4,412 on a 60-year term.

At the time the old post-office premises, previously scheduled under the Loughborough Order of 1928 occupied a site of about 1,400 square yards with about 43ft. frontage onto Baxter Gate and depth of about 180ft[14]. Having purchased the site, they put forward a proposal in 1935 to sell off the site for £6,000 for a new cinema and insert a new road, between Baxter Gate and Church Gate, along the line of School Passage to form Lemyngton Street. Loughborough Corporation’s Street Improvement Negotiations Sub-committee, who produced the following report, undertook the details of the proposal and subsequent negotiations[15]:

Negotiations have taken place with Messrs. S.I. King, surveyors and Messrs. Wallace Robinson and Morgan, solicitors, Birmingham, with respe3ct to land in Baxter-gate (principally the old Post Office site), containing an area of approximately1,551 square yards, as a site for a new cinema, and they have made an offer on behalf of their clients of £6,000, subject to title and to the plans of the proposed cinema being approved and the license in respect of the proposed premises duly granted. The whole of the buildings, including the including the buildings now standing on the site of the land required for the street widening will be demolished by the purchasers.

The Borough Surveyor submitted a plan with estimates to create both the new road and widen Baxter Gate from Mr. Clifford’s, solicitors, premises in Baxter Gate up to Sparrow Hill. The estimates of £1,200 and £1,250 respectively with the recommendation of applying to the Minister of Health for approval to raise a loan for the full £2,450[16].

The plans went ahead and the new cinema, known as the Odeon, opened in 1936. It was renamed to the Classic cinema in 1967 and finally closed as a cinema in January 1974. The site was subsequently sold to Mecca Bingo and reopened as a bingo hall and today (2017) it is known as The Beacon Bingo Club.

 

 

References:

  1. The Loughborough Echo, 14th February 1930.

  2. The Loughborough Herald and North Leicestershire Gazette, 10th February 1887.

  3. The Loughborough Herald and North Leicestershire Gazette, 5th May 1887.

  4. The Loughborough Herald and North Leicestershire Gazette, 8th December 1887.

  5. Wright’s Midland Directory, 1864

  6. The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, 4th April 1891.

  7. Loughborough Highway & Sanitary Committee, July 1895.

  8. The Loughborough Echo, 16th January 1920.

  9. 1,538 square yards – Leicestershire Record Office ref: DE5099-117.

  10. Leicestershire Record Office ref: DE5099-117.

  11. The Loughborough Echo, 14th February 1930.

  12. The Loughborough Echo, 21st March 1930.

  13. Loughborough Library – Local Studies.

  14. Ibid.

  15. The Loughborough Echo, 5th July 1935.

  16. Ibid.