Postman Pat’s post office

Postman Pat's post office, Kendal, CumbriaKendal, 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 – though I fear his fame may not have reached the wilder parts of the world – 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 bitter personal experience that someone very like him definitely exists; in fact, he has relations in many large corporations. Back to Pat, and to quote from his very own website:

“Whether he’s at the wheel of the trusty red post van or his new SDS helicopter, Pat always makes his delivery. He is a pillar of his community—a good neighbour who’s always ready with a joke, a kind word, or a helping hand. He loves a chat with everyone, especially over a cup of tea.”

Sign, Postman Pat, Kendal, CumbriaThis probably sounds exactly like your own postman, doesn’t it? – apart from the helicopter, maybe.  Pat and his whole wonderful innocent world of green hills, drystone walls and goodness 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 ‘clean’ 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 this one yet, and rather glad they haven’t.

Postman Pat, John Cunliffe, KendalIn 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 used to work) to Beast Banks – an attractive part of town with an almost rural feel, where a cattle market was held in centuries past, close to the site of Kendal’s first castle.  Opposite, is Beast Banks’ – or Postman Pat’s – Post Office.  Once you’ve taken precisely 3 seconds to snap a photograph – slightly longer if Pat is visiting, which he is rumoured to do occasionally – 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 genuine local, where you might get a decent pint of Abbot Ale.

The Rifleman's Arms, Kendal, pubs, CumbriaI 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 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.  Wallace and Gromit is another example of this technique.  Postman Pat (full name Pat Clifton) has his own Facebook page (which has over 86,000 ‘likes’), website, Twitter account (though, when I looked, Pat hadn’t tweeted since 2015; possibly, he’s realised it’s helped kill his postbag) and his stories have been shown in at least 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.  Greendale’s nearby town of Pencaster allegedly bears some resemblance to the city of Lancaster – where you can experience stop motion in person.

In May 2014, Postman Pat: The Movie was released, in which our hero receives the full CGI treatment.  I am just waiting for the right opportunity to see it, but, somehow, one hasn’t arisen.  Apparently, Pat is replaced by a robot, PatBot 3000, which seeks world domination whilst Pat takes part in a talent contest staged by a character called Simon Cowbell.  In addition to the normal cast, it features the voices of unknowns like 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 jolly good plug – if not, I will happily remove the image and say a few rude things about the BBC.  Meanwhile, here is the link to the BBC CBeebies website featuring episodes of Pat that you can watch in the comfort of your straitjacket.  And here is the link to Postman Pat’s official website where, among all the other attractions, you will be able to download Pat’s App; imagine that!

Postman Pat

27 thoughts on “Postman Pat’s post office

  1. Andrew

    Covered in my book Secret Kendal but in the introduction you mention Katherine Parr and the castle. A common misconception is that she was born and lived here, the evidence suggests she was born at the Parr residence in London and never visited the castle as it would almost certainly be in a bad state of repair at this time. It is understood she stayed at Sizergh Castle before she married Henry.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Yes, Kendal has some intriguing little curios, like this one. I thought it was generally accepted that the castle was pretty much ruined by Kate’s time and that she never ventured into this part of the frozen north; I didn’t know she’d possibly visited Sizergh, though did hear that the Parrs were chummy with the Stricklands.

  2. milliethom

    What a delightful post and one that brings back many memories. Our three youngest children loved this little man – and his little van – and his little black-and-white Jess. I can honestly say I’ve been through Kendal dozens of times and even stopped to look round a few times, but I had no idea that Kendal was the birthplace of this wonderful character. The stories were so sweet and innocent, and Pat was always on hand to help everyone! I’ll make a point of looking for the places you’ve named next time we get up there.

  3. Blue Sky Scotland

    Just as well it was conceived in the late 1970s -1980s and a semi rural run. Most of the posties and self employed delivery drivers I talk to today don’t have time to stroke anyone’s pussy. Strict unrealistic time limits set for every letterbox with no allowance for traffic, hold ups or slow to the door clients for packages 🙂
    Not an easy job- I was one for years in the 1990s- early 2000s and more than happy to jump ship after ‘restless legs syndrome’ forced a change. Since then I’ve been untroubled so it must have been all the pavement pounding and tenement stairs six days a week..

  4. jmnowak

    I think I would like Postman Pat, especially as he takes his cat on his rounds! And because I also love Wallace + Gromit. Fun post, Mike. Hope you’re keeping well.

  5. Marcia

    Never heard of Postman Pat. We are back from Scotland and it was wonderful. I haven’t compared the list of places we visited to the ones you recommended but I know there are quite a few overlaps. Must sort the photos and write more blog posts but did put a few up as an overview in the meantime. Thanks again for your help. Dunblane was the perfect jumping off point.

  6. diane

    We used to show Postman Pat to our Year One students on Friday afternoons. It was/ is a great series but my allegiance has changed to “Fireman Sam” another English children show although It plays in Wales in Pontypandy. My son in law writes the music for the series. Amazing technology allows him to do this from his studio in Sydney.

  7. Judy@CranberryMorning

    Gawping grockles?? Another one for my list. Postman Pat may be fictional in your country, but our rural mail carrier, LeRoy, sounds much the same. He often comes to the door with packages and politics. I wonder how he keeps a schedule. What a fun post. I think it would be fun to live in that residence. I wouldn’t want to change anything. I bet my grandkids, fans of Wallace and Grommit and Thomas and Shaun have watched Postman Pat also. I’ll have to ask.

  8. Clare Pooley

    Both my daughters and I loved – and love still – Postman Pat, though we aren’t keen on the newer version with the helicopter. The newer series also got rid of some of our favourite characters. I never thought to look for his post office when I was last in Kendal! 😀

  9. artandarchitecturemainly

    I do not enjoy the mint cake (sorry) but the grey limestone architecture in town looks integrated and refined. Naturally the pub looks great as well!

  10. hilarymb

    Hi Mike – lovely post on Postman Pat .. perhaps he could start a blog – but probably he’s happier just being a retired Postman Pat with some interesting reincarnations … a heart-warming read! Cheers Hilary

  11. April Munday

    I’m surprised they have Abbot that far north. I was watching the DVD of Sherlock last night where they go to Dartmoor. The pub in that had Abbot. I used to drink it when I was cycling in Essex, which was fairly local to where it was brewed in those days.

    I’m too old to have watched Postman Pat, so I can’t really comment on the rest of the post.

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