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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Postman Pat's Post Office

Postman Pat, Post Office, Kendal, Cumbria

Kendal, nestling conveniently on the edge of the English Lake District, is a famous town.  This, after all, is the place where mint cake was discovered, Katherine Parr had a castle and Alfred Wainwright was Borough Treasurer; but these nuggets of distinction pale into insignificance when you realise that Postman Pat was born there.  Indeed, by all accounts (and, fortunately, there are few of those) he was conceived there as well.

The erudite reader does not need to ask, “Postman who?”  As anyone who is anyone knows, Postman Pat is the resourceful postman in the fictional village of Greendale where, with his ubiquitous companion Jess, the black and white cat, he - well – he delivers the post.  Of course, life is never that simple.  Greendale is a rural community and there are challenges.  So, in between coping with oversized packages and Mr Doughbag at the Royal Mail, Pat has to resolve a whole host of unexpected problems - with things like sheep, snow, runaway trains and even stolen strawberries.  (I made up Mr Doughbag, but know from personal experience that someone very like him definitely exists).

Sign, Kendal Civic Society, Postman Pat's Post Office, Beast Banks

Pat and his whole wonderful innocent world of green hills, colourful flowers and drystone walls were the brainchild of children’s author John Cunliffe, who used to live in Kendal, on Greenside, just a few doors up from the post office that inspired him.  The postmistress in the stories is called Mrs Goggins, by the way.  In real life, sadly, the post office closed in 2003 and is now a private residence.  I’ve often wondered whether houses with famous connections cost more to buy, or whether the price is discounted to take account of loss of privacy and gawping grockles.  I’m assuming that places associated with terrible deeds can be obtained at a knock-down figure, because no one wants to live in them, whereas estate agents will be forced (against their will), to add a premium to the tag of a celebrity home.  However, you could probably make a good ghoulish living from opening the bungalow where Vlad the Impaler used to take his holidays, so I guess the old adage about there being no such thing as bad publicity is probably true.  Isn’t it a gas, though, that places associated with works of fiction – like this post office – can become attractions?  I’m a little surprised that someone hasn’t cashed in on it yet, and I’m rather glad they haven’t.

In any event, keen Postpatians (my own word for Postman Pat fans, in the same vein as ‘Whovians’) heave themselves up Allhallows Lane opposite Kendal’s Town Hall (where Alfred W worked) to Beast Banks – an attractive, almost rural, part of town where a cattle market was held in centuries past.  Opposite, is Beast Banks – or Postman Pat’s - Post Office.  Once you’ve taken precisely 3 seconds to take a photograph – though slightly longer if Pat is visiting, which he does sometimes – you can recover from all the excitement at an adjacent hostelry, the Rifleman’s Arms, which the hawk-eyed amongst you will have noticed that you passed on the way uphill.  This used to be – and hopefully still is – a good traditional no-frills local, where you might get a decent pint of Abbot Ale.  You'll notice they've missed the apostrophe in the sign, though.

Rifleman's Arms, Greenside, Kendal, pubs

Rifleman's Arms, Greenside, Kendal, pubs, signs

I digress.  Postman Pat was born in 1978, aimed at a pre-school audience, and the stories were first screened on BBC TV in 1981.  They take the form of what is apparently known as ‘stop motion animation’ – where objects, such as dolls, are photographed in stages of movement and then the photographs are all joined together - somehow.  Postman Pat (full name Pat Clifton) has his own Facebook page (which has over 83,000 ‘likes’), website, Twitter account and has been shown in 85 countries worldwide.  ‘Greendale’ is reputedly based on the village of Longsleddale, a few miles to the north of Kendal.  Longsleddale is beautiful, remote - and tiny; I suggest an awful lot smaller than its fictional counterpart.

In May 2014, ‘Postman Pat: The Movie’ was released, in which our reluctant hero receives the full CGI treatment.  I am just waiting for the opportunity to see it.  Apparently, Pat is replaced by a robot, ‘PatBot 3000’, which seeks world domination whilst Pat takes part in a talent contest staged by someone called Simon Cowbell.  In addition to the normal cast, it features the voices of David Tennant, Jim Broadbent, Rupert Grint and Ronan Keating.


Below is a picture of Pat and Jess, which I borrowed from the BBC.  I hope they consider this fair use and feel I have given Pat a good plug – if not, I will happily remove the picture.  Here is the link to the BBC CBeebies website featuring Pat.  And here is the link to Postman Pat’s official website.

Postman Pat, Jess, black and white cat

PS Our postman's called Sid, and he's brilliant!

32 comments:

  1. not familiar with that book or series, but it is a cute premise. :)

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  2. I am also not familiar with the book or series, but I enjoyed your photos and post, Mike. I would love to visit England some day but for now I have to be satisfied with touring it via lovely photos like yours for now. I have a feeling that if I ever to get to see England I probably would want to stay there. :)

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  3. It sounds like a charming spot and charming characters for a book, but I must confess I haven't heard of this author or his works.

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  4. I think I must have seen every episode of Postman Pat on DVD as I used to care for a young man who watched nothing else! Despite his unfortunate resemblance to Danny Alexander MP (though with more gravitas and charisma, of course) I became very fond of the gallant postie and love that particular corner of the Lake District too.

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    1. I hadn't spotted the resemblance to Danny Alexander. That's shocking; do you think Mrs Pat knows?

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  5. You have given him such an excellent plug indeed and it has stirred me to check it out on youtube, which there of course is a truckload of videos. Here is the link for the original theme song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiFNt8nGffA
    Thank you for sharing this quaint little town too, lovely buildings. It makes perfect sense to me if one could purchase the old Post Office for a residence do it while you can.

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  6. Pat looks like a jolly chap!

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  7. That's something that never made it over to this side of the Atlantic!

    I like the old stone of the town.

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  8. Postman Pat is still a hit with little ones. My granddaughter has just been introduced to him.

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  9. Despite loving the lakes, I had no idea that Pat had his own post office!!

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  10. This sounds like a delightful children's series and show. Sadly, not available here unless one gets cable or satellite (that would be us).

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  11. How cute ;-) I had no idea that is where Postman Pat was born ;-)

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  12. Great story and beautiful pics of Kendal. thanks

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  13. I have completely missed out on Postman Pat so far, and from your account, it sounds like I have been missing a lot!

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  14. I left England (1962) prior to that program airing - but can imagine it being popular with the toddlers. I do recall watching Bill & Ben the Flowerpot Men on TV (I have a brother 8 years younger!), and always loved "……are you sitting comfortably?" - I think that was the intro to the Listen With Mother stories on the wireless. Showing my age here I'm sure!

    Yes, I noticed the missing apostrophe - thanks to my strict Torquay Girls Grammar School days with the spinster English Language teacher, Miss Someone or other. All the teachers were Miss until the arrival of the male music teacher - whom all we silly little girls immediately fell head over heels 'in love' with! For some reason choir and violin became very popular after his arrival. So many kids, here especially, just don't get English punctuation - very sad. Of course many don't even SPEAK English now!

    Looks like a nice pub though and I'd like it moved here to my neighborhood please - a 'local' like that would definitely be popular. I bet there's even a roaring hearth and horse brasses on the walls. All we have are boring modern brewpubs, or sports bars with TV's blaring out around the ceiling - and as I don't even drink beer I rarely cross their thresholds.

    Great story Mike. I was in Kendal a couple of years ago - my first time in the Lake District and I loved it. Such beautiful countryside……quite different from the south of England where I grew up.
    Mary

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    1. Oh - I remember Bill & Ben too! Actually, I don't recall the Rifleman as being quite as picturesque as you imagine. It's a town pub. Generally speaking, I think you get more of the horse brass, oak beams etc in villages and country areas - the UK has more than its share of the hideous sports bar sort of thing you describe! And you're right - huge difference in countryside between different regions of Britain; remarkable given that it's a relatively small island.

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  15. I was to watch Melancholia on TV tonight, but I think it'll be too depressing.. I'll watch Postman Pat on YouTube instead ;) By the way all people born in 1978 are awesome and have a black and white cat or is it just Pat and me?

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  16. I use real settings for all of my novels. Maybe I'll be famous enough one day to benefit some of my locals.

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  17. I was born in 1983 so I remember Postman Pat - I loved it (I still do if I'm honest, hehe, but not the CGI Pat!) - this was really interesting as I didn't know anything about the creation of or the history of PP. I'll look out for these places one day, if I ever make it to the Lake District!

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  18. I enjoyed reading your story Mike! I have always wanted to know where Postman Pat lived ;-)

    have a good week!

    Madelief

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  19. What fun! Our daughter's little 4 year old watches Postman Pat and Fireman Sam, although she told me today that the characters on Fireman Sam started out with a British accent but now seem to speak with a sort of southern U.S.A. accent. Hmmm. The type of filming you refer to reminds me of 'The Silent Years' about the novice monk and Wallace & Gromit. Is that what you mean? Enjoyed the post. Nice save at the end with the P.S. ;-) and, regarding the apostrophe on the sign, just be thankful they didn't put one at the end of Riflemans.

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    1. Hi CM. I don't know 'The Silent Years', but yes I believe Wallace & Gromit is 'stop motion' animation.

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  20. Well, I wasn't familiar with Postman Pat but I enjoyed your story and photos.

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  21. Hmmm.....I am thinking there might be a series of children's books for Postman Sid The Brilliant. A great read Mike and another picturesque village in England.

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  22. I haven't heard of Postman Pat but I am intrigued. I hope you have a great Tuesday, sir!

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  23. i have heard of Postman Pat because of - let me think? was it Wallace and Grommit? maybe? ( :

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  24. Awesome I used to love postman Pat even had a car that looked like the one pat drove http://spudsdailyphoto.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/j-is-for-jimny.html but that was noth the reason I had it. I love the fact the Writer lived in the PO and got the story from that. One thing I hate Kendal mint cake, most Disgusting stuff I have ever tasted

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  25. I love Kendal. Happened upon it last spring. So cute.

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  26. Haha, I never knew Postman Pat originated from here or realise that you could fill another quality post with such a topic :-)
    I can quite imagine Postman Pat driving along the narrow hedgerows to Longsleddale, a most difficult road to drive in daylight hours from my experience in Wainwright hill climbing years.
    After reading the A Wainwright biography, I had to check out his written labelling of museum exhibits and find his house ... not a welcome street for ... errr ... pilgrims !

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Hi - thanks for dropping into A Bit About Britain. New material is now being posted to www.bitaboutbritain.com and most of the material here will gradually be updated and moved over to that new site. Please drop in there, click on the blog page, and take a look round. TTFN - Mike.