Maitland Post Office
The first Post and Telegraph Office was situated on the corner of Bourke Street in West Maitland, opposite to where the current Post Office now stands.
The Postal Department placed an advertisement in the Maitland Mercury on 20 October 1876 seeking a site for a new post office, with the Maitland Mercury subsequently advising that the vacant allotment on the corner of High and Bourke Streets had been purchased for this purpose.
Tenders for the new post office were advertised in December of 1878, with the Maitland Mercury viewing the plans of the building at that time. It was observed that the design was very similar to the new post office at Singleton.
The West Maitland Borough Council was congratulated on their persistence in having a clock tower added to the design, the Mercury commenting ‘for what was a rather heavy, commonplace building will not exactly become a thing of beauty in consequence of the tower being supplied, but will acquire some dignity and attractiveness.’
Designed by the Colonial Architect's Office under James J. Barnet, the Maitland Post Office building was completed in 1881.
In architectural terms, the Maitland Post Office is an example of the Victorian Italianate style, representative of a group of Italianate post offices designed by Barnet, incorporating a land mark corner tower .
Maitland Post Office opened for business on Monday 10 October 1881. The principal room faced High Street, while the corner facing Bourke Street was the entrance for the public to receive their letters as well as
accessing the money order and post office savings bank departments. Some finishing touches had yet to be made, however the innovation of private, locked delivery boxes for the public had been introduced, similar to those in Sydney and other large towns.
The Post Office was placed on the Commonwealth heritage list in 2011, reflecting the building’s architectural value in Australian history.
The Post Office clock was manufactured and fitted by Mr A. Tornaghi, of George Street, Sydney, and considered to be an appreciable improvement to the building.
The clock was installed in June 1883 but there were a few drawbacks reported by the Mercury: ‘Owing to the peculiar construction of the tower it was not possible to allot the clock a higher position, and consequently its dials can only be seen by persons in the immediate neighbourhood. The character of the walls of the tower - which are formed of brick coated with cement -prevents the bell being heard at any considerable distance. Mr. Tornaghi alleges that this clock is one of the best in the colony in point of merit, and we trust that it will prove so as time wears on.’