Blackpool Post Office. Photo: Dawn Mander

New Hotel Plans for Blackpool’s Old Post Office

A transformation is finally on the cards for Blackpool’s Old Post Office on Abingdon Street. Development plans for a new hotel will breathe new life into the old building. Above photo: Dawn Mander

2021 Plans for Blackpool’s Old Post Office

According to the Place North West website, a Cheshire company called Ashall Projects has submitted an application to convert Blackpool’s old post office into a 148 bedroom hotel.

Proposal for conversion of Blackpool's Old Post Office, design by Franklin Ellis Architects
Proposal for conversion of Blackpool’s Old Post Office, design by Franklin Ellis Architects

They’re working with Blackpool Council and Hotel Indigo to deliver the £24.8m project. £7m of that will come from a bid to the Levelling Up Fund, if successful. Hotel Indigo is the Luxury and Lifestyle brand from the IHG Group which includes Holiday Inn. And of course there’s a brand new Holiday Inn being built nearby at the new tramway terminus at Talbot Road.

Many of the original features will be retained, including the marble floors. The Post Office and the 8 red telephone boxes are all Grade II listed. We went to record the sorry state the building is currently in, before any work begins –

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Ashall Projects has completed a number of similar projects, including the conversion of the former Royal Insurance building in Liverpool. The 116 bedroom Aloft Hotel was created from the old building which had been derelict for 20 years. It was so bad that it was on the National Buildings at Risk register.

Approval for Indigo Hotel Plans

On Tuesday 16 November 2021, the planning committee at Blackpool Council voted unanimously to approve the application to convert this long-disused building into a new boutique hotel.

Now, the existing fourth floor roof extension to the former sorting office can be demolished. And various other internal walls and structures to the courtyard and roof can also be removed.

A three storey link extension will be added, along with a fourth floor roof extension and balconies to the former sorting office. At the back of the former Post Office new extensions will be added. One is single storey, the other three storey. As you would expect there will be internal and external changes made to both buildings.

On foot you’ll enter from Abingdon Street, where the front of the building and it’s eight red phone boxes will be preserved. Access for vehicles is from Edward Street.

History of Blackpool Post Office

Blackpool Post Office at Abingdon Street opened to the public on 2 June 1905, moving from the corner of Coronation Street/Church Street. It replaced the Union Baptist Chapel and Sunday School.

Thanks go once again to Visit Fylde Coast Contributor Juliette Gregson for this archive photo of the building in its early days.

Blackpool Post Office When it Closed

The Post Office was in use at Abingdon Street until it closed on 12 September 2007.

The counter service then moved to WH Smith on Bank Hey Street, which is now also closed. The sorting office moved to the new £7m Royal Mail Delivery Centre off Faraday Way in Bispham in 2015.

Blackpool now has a new post office counter in Bickerstaffe House – the building next to North Station.

Abingdon Street Post Office. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Abingdon Street Post Office. Photo: Juliette Gregson

Thanks to Visit Fylde Coast Contributor Juliette Gregson, who provided these photos. They show the inside of the counter and the sorting office at Abingdon Street Post Office, taken literally just before it closed. Plus a couple of photos of the familiar stonework on the outside of the building.

Clive Cook also got in touch, with an anecdote about his time there. Clive says “I started work there as a 16 year old telegram boy on 4 July 1977 then went on to be a van driver. There were 82 sub post offices then, all over the Fylde, I bet there are less than 20 now?

“Those days were brilliant. Enjoyable and I looked forward to going to work, for the crack and wind ups. There was even a canteen on the top floor, all the postmen used it for a brilliant full English, every morning. Never to be repeated.”

Photos Inside the Post Office Hall

Blackpool Post Office Counter, before it closed. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Blackpool Post Office Counter, before it closed. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Blackpool Post Office Counter, before it closed. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Blackpool Post Office Counter, before it closed. Photo: Juliette Gregson
An original doorway inside Blackpool Post Office before it closed. Photo: Juliette Gregson
An original doorway inside Blackpool Post Office before it closed. Photo: Juliette Gregson

Photos of places you wouldn’t normally see…

The sorting office area. Photo: Juliette Gregson
The sorting office area. Photo: Juliette Gregson
The sorting office area. Photo: Juliette Gregson
The sorting office area. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Slots for sorting letters. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Slots for sorting letters. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Sorting cages for the Fylde Coasts post. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Sorting cages for the Fylde Coasts post. Photo: Juliette Gregson
One of the internal passageways inside Abingdon Street Post Office. Photo: Juliette Gregson
One of the internal passageways inside Abingdon Street Post Office. Photo: Juliette Gregson
An internal staircase inside Abingdon Street Post Office. Photo: Juliette Gregson
An internal staircase inside Abingdon Street Post Office. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Many internal staircases inside Abingdon Street Post Office. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Many internal staircases inside Abingdon Street Post Office. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Old fashioned security. Photo: Juliette Gregson
Old fashioned security. Photo: Juliette Gregson

And Visit Fylde Coast Contributor Dawn Mander provided these photos of the courtyard area where demolition work had begun in Spring 2018.

Failed Plans for Blackpool’s Old Post Office

Sadly, after being empty for so long, the building has suffered some vandalism, including an arson attack on Boxing Day 2018. The Indigo Hotel plans are the fourth set of plans for the building.

‘Red Box Quarter’ Designs for Blackpool Post Office

This design for the building was revealed in January 2018. It showed how Blackpool’s former main Post Office could be transformed into a contemporary shopping and leisure hub.

Artist's impression of the Red Box Quarter when Blackpool Post Office is redeveloped
Artist’s impression of the Red Box Quarter when Blackpool Post Office is redeveloped

Proposals for the Red Box Quarter at the Grade II listed building on Abingdon Street were also formally approved by planners. The name came, of course, from the well loved row of red phone boxes at the entrance. To the rear of the building is Edward Street and there’s an in internal courtyard which was used for parking.

The new retail plans included the removal of the former Post Office counter and its re-use to form a central kiosk within the main hall on the ground floor.

Artists impression of the inside of the Red Box Quarter
Artists impression of the inside of the Red Box Quarter

Plans included a restaurant at plaza level, a rooftop bar on the Edward Street elevation and a mini designer outlet. This fly through video uses CGI to show you around the development proposals. However, the scheme for the 50 bedroom hotel was shelved.

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Hotel Plans…

The November 2019 plans for a 102-bedroom hotel were the third proposal for the site. Previous schemes included a smaller, 50 bedroom hotel and the Red Box Quarter shopping outlet (above).

Plans for the 102-bedroom version were approved in November 2019, also including shops, a bar and restaurant, plus a roof terrace. The service yard at the rear of the building to be converted into a 46-space car park. The Edward Street buildings, once home to the sorting office, would be converted into the 102-bedroom hotel.

Blackpool Post Office on Abingdon Street, December 2019
Blackpool Post Office on Abingdon Street, December 2019

A council planning report says the buildings “are important heritage features of the town centre conservation area”. But they “have suffered some damage with windows being smashed and a fire on the upper floors.”

It’s an attractive building, fronted in ornate white Portland stone. At the front are eight, Grade II listed, cast-iron telephone boxes. The original post office counter and mosaic floor are also to be retained. This work would have included building 2 three-storey extensions. One with an enclosed staircase, and the other a roof terrace overlooking Abingdon Street.

Got anything to add?

If you know anything more about the history of Blackpool Post Office, please feel free to add your knowledge in the comments below. If you’ve got any old photos to add you can email them to jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk

While you’re here…

What do you think? Why don’t you join in and leave a comment below?

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6 thoughts on “New Hotel Plans for Blackpool’s Old Post Office”

  1. Stephen Czartorynsky

    I joined the post office in Bolton in 1968 and I was sent to Blackpool Post Office to be trained. Loved every minute of it.

  2. All that seems to happen in Blackpool is forget or knock down original buildings and rebuild ugly replacements OR ha, “let’s have a concrete car park instead!”
    As for the original Post Office, I still don’t see the logic of abandoning it, relocating it to BISPHAM? Why not KEEP the post office where it was, updating the facilities!
    Do we really need another hotel? more new built shops? Why not spend the money on what’s already here!??? There are so many hotels etc boarded up! AND beautiful buildings standing empty for use! All original Blackpool! I think the Talbot Road area where the bus station use to be is an “eyesore” why get rid of a bus station??? What’s being built is far too high for town centre, it’s blocking the sky!
    I never go into town any more!
    My worse is the old ABC! being demolished!?!!

  3. MRS S M TUCKER

    i just dont understand why they are building all these new hotels when all the promenade is boarded up through lack of people to stay in them, my inlaws had a guest house on Vance Rd and they allways said when they opened the motorway it would kill Blackpool ,and it did.

  4. There is also a 22 shooting range in the roof space used by the home guard and post office sports club. Not a lot of people know that there is also a tunnel under the back yard and it had its own generator for power in the left hand room under back arch and possible metal round uprights supports in old sorting office which came from the old chapel. Behind the front area was a bullion room which had reinforced 2 ft thick walls with Dorset stone chips in it. The little room back stairs had brown Victorian tiles in, could have been an old toilet

  5. Hi, hope when you restore the telephone box’s to their former glory you will be welding them closed to keep the vandals out. Jimmy

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