For much of the 19th century the General PostGlossary Term Office was located in the Custom House in Canning Place, until this specially designed building was constructed in Victoria Street between 1894 and 1899. The architect was Henry Tanner, a Principal Architect (Chief Architect from 1898) in the Office of Works, whose other postal buildings include the contemporary General PostGlossary Term Office in Leeds. The Victoria Street building was exceptionally ambitious, originally resembling a Loire chateau with an eventful skyline of shaped gables, chimneys and pavilionGlossary Term roofs. The decoration included sculpture by Edward O. Griffith around the main entrance. Unfortunately, the upper floors were removed following bomb damage in the Second World War, and the interior was gutted
Looking at buildings
The new Post-office in Victoria-street was opened on Wednesday by the Duke of York. The building has a frontage to Victoria-street of 226ft., to St. Thomas-street of 254ft., to Stanley-street of 260ft., and has a yard comprising 103ft. square. The site covers nearly two acres of ground. In front of the second floor there are four figures representing England and Scotland and Ireland and Wales, the two pairs standing hand-in-hand. There are ten smaller figures, representing colonies. Below there are figures typifying Commerce and Industry, and Electricity and Engineering. The total cost of the site, including premises in Cumberland-street and Whitechapel, will be about £200,000, and another £100,000 or thereabouts will be required for building purposes, and for supplying fittings, engines, electric-light wires, and pneumatic tubes. The building is considered absolutely proof against fire, very little woodwork being used, except in the way of furniture and fittings.
The new buildings contain the following offices : Public, sorting, packet, parcel, and registered-letter offices; postmen’s room, returned-letter branch, telephone-room, telegraph-instrument room, yard, bag and basket-room, and telegraph messengers’ and delivery room. On the second floor are the scullery, kitchen, and carving, serving, and dining-rooms, the latter measuring 30ft. by 73ft., and having seats for 190 persons. The walls of these rooms, and of all the staircases and retiring-rooms, are of white glazed bricks, with dado of dark tiles. The inner vestibule and the postmaster’s staircase, inside the west door in Victoria-street, are of Hopton Wood marble. The doors are of teak, and the public office counter of sabicu (a hard Cuban wood), the other fittings being of mahogany.
“The Building News”, 21 July 1899