Exhibition shows faces of former Sheffield head post office staff

The launch of the Post Office Faces exhibition in Fitzaland Square, Sheffield.
The launch of the Post Office Faces exhibition in Fitzaland Square, Sheffield.
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Staff from Sheffield’s former head post office are back at their old workplace for a special portrait exhibition.

Post Office Faces features 16 newly-commissioned portraits of employees, from postmen and telegraphists to telephone exchange workers and drivers, who worked in the Fitzalan Square building from 1946 until its closure in the 1990s.

The exhibition opened in the revamped building, which is now Sheffield Hallam University’s institute of arts, or SIA, with a launch event on June 3. It will run daily except Sundays and Mondays until June 24.

Project lead for Post Office Faces Loz Harvey said: “It was clear that every employee had a real affinity with the building and a strong wish to see how it is today.

“Participants frequently talked about tough conditions, falling in love and the camaraderie amongst workers – and many of them are still friends to this day.

“On the face of it, the use of the building now as Hallam’s thriving centre for the arts could not be more different than its 90 years as a head post office and telephone exchange.

The launch of the Post Office Faces exhibition in Fitzaland Square, Sheffield.

The launch of the Post Office Faces exhibition in Fitzaland Square, Sheffield.

“But all of the employees viewed their years there as among the happiest of their lives, a wish that the university shares for its students.”

Several of those featured in the exhibition were at the launch event to see their portraits unveiled and share memories of the building. Visitors to the exhibition can listen to some of those memories while viewing the portraits, which were taken by photographer Nigel Barker.

The institute of arts director Sally Wade said: “SIA’s new home, the former head post office, is the cornerstone of the Catalyst Festival of Creativity with several of the exhibitions centred in and around the building. Post Office Faces is the first of these exhibitions and it beautifully links the historic building’s past with its exciting future.

“The head post office was a key part of so many people’s lives in Sheffield and the stories behind the building are a fascinating look back. Since we renovated and moved into the building we have already had a number of visitors who once worked at the head post office keen to have a look around and this exhibition provides an opportunity for people in Sheffield to visit this iconic building.”

The Post Office Faces exhibition in Fitzaland Square, Sheffield.

The Post Office Faces exhibition in Fitzaland Square, Sheffield.

The exhibition is open 11am to 5pm Tuesdays to Saturdays until June 24. For more visit www4.shu.ac.uk.

The Post Office Faces exhibition in Fitzaland Square, Sheffield.

The Post Office Faces exhibition in Fitzaland Square, Sheffield.