Kiama Post Office

Kiama-Post-Office-corner-1880s1When the first Post Office opened in Kiama on 1st January 1841 there was no official Post Office building, instead, being located in a premises on Michael Hindmarsh’s allotment in Shoalhaven Street, to the north of the old "Independent" office.

Representations for an official Post Office building at Kiama were made on 22nd July 1874, by John Stewart M.P., on behalf of the Municipal Council. As a result of this petition, a sum of £1500 was granted by Parliament.

The site suggested was at the corner of Manning and Terralong Streets. It was described as being a portion of the site reserved for a Town Hall, and this caused some problems.

In February 1877, the Colonial Architect, James Barnet, who designed the Sydney GPO, put forward his plans, estimated to cost £3000. Postmaster-General Saul Samuel approved the plans, even though the quote was £1500 more than had been voted by Parliament. It would not be unreasonable to presume that political considerations may have influenced his decision, as new Post Office buildings were considered a vote winner, especially in rural areas.

James-BarnetThe 2nd January 1878 saw the tender of W.R. Vaughan for £3,300 accepted for the erection of a Post and Telegraph Office. The Colonial Architect reported the Post Office completed on 13th December 1878.

However, in April 1879, Postal Inspector Davies reported that arrangements for posting letters in the new building were unsafe. Davies telegraphed the following message to Sydney:

   ...Is nothing to be done to make new building here suitable for Post and Telegraph Office. Building has been idle for four months waiting fittings...

tornaghiBy December 1879, the new building had been completed for over a year, and yet still had not been occupied. With alterations completed, the Post Office was finally opened for business on 19th January 1880, with Mr.Tyter the Postmaster.

The large, solid and heavy red bricks were manufactured in Melbourne and machine pressed. The joiner’s work was obtained from Messrs. Hudson of Sydney. The painting and varnishing undertaken by locals, Messrs. Hayes and Wilson.

Postmaster Tyter later requested that a stable and shed be supplied for the three or more horses in daily use. This was agreed to. However, requests for a water tank, outside lamp and bathroom were refused.

In March 1905, the Progress Association requested that a counter be provided for the transaction of business, as apparently the public was still being served by a delivery window. A cedar counter and writing slopes were provided shortly afterwards.

The Post Office clock was installed by Angelo Tornaghi. Born in Milan, he arrived in Sydney at the age of 24, quickly establishing himself as a maker of scientific instruments. Tornaghi was appointed to the position in charge of all government turret clocks in NSW. His major achievement was the clock for the Sydney GPO.

The brass setting dial bears the name “A. Tornaghi, Sydney”. The bell has lettering, “Gillet and Bland Croydon, London 1878”. When Tornaghi re-visited his native Italy, he was awarded the Cross of Italy, recognising his achievements as an Italian in a new country.