The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Ken Gulliver

From 'The Lenton Listener' Issue 47

August - September 1987

Gulliver's Travels

In 1944 call-up papers arrived for an eighteen year old called Kenneth George Gulliver. Sent to Nottingham, he proceeded to serve King and Country as a 'Bevin boy' down the mine at Clifton Colliery. Ken Gulliver remained at the pit until his demob in 1947, whereupon the decision arose whether to return to his London home in Bow. Ken chose not to and instead took a shop in Old Lenton. Forty years on, Ken Gulliver is still serving the Lenton public, though now he is sub-postmaster at New Lenton post office on Lenton Boulevard.

Ken Gulliver - New Lenton Post Office in 1987

Friar Street, Old Lenton was the location of Ken's first shop, which sold green groceries and wet fish. To these Ken gradually added groceries and meat products. His choice of this shop was undoubtedly influenced by the fact that while at the colliery, Ken had spent three happy years as a lodger at the home of Mrs Liza Wesley on the same street. The properties in and around Friar Street (to the rear of the original Red Cow pub on Gregory Street) had all seen better days, and in the early 1960s the City Council decided they had to come down. This meant Ken Gulliver needed to look elsewhere for gainful employment. This time his choice led him to the Dunkirk post office on Beeston Road. Ken bought the business, had the shop enlarged, and continued his predecessor's practice of combining postal duties with the sale of groceries. He stayed at Dunkirk for three years, but when in 1964 the post office on Lenton Boulevard came on to the market, Ken chose to move to New Lenton.

Two elderly ladies, the Misses Burns, had been the previous occupants and on taking over, Ken found there was much to be done. Once more he had the shop area enlarged. Proper display cases were installed to hold the greeting cards which hither to had been kept in a couple of shoe boxes. Along with the cards Ken has built up an extensive range of stationery requisites. Small toys and a wide variety of shoulder bags have also been added to the range of goods available at his New Lenton post office.

With such a range of side-lines Ken Gulliver has developed the New Lenton post office into a flourishing business, so much so that during busy periods in the week extra staff are employed to ensure that the queues remain short and no-one need wait unduly. There is one time in the month, however, when even their best endeavours often prove insufficient. New Lenton is one of the few sub-post offices in the City which handles car tax. In the first working day in the month it is always crowded out with car owners waiting to obtain their new tax discs, despite the fact that this could have been done any time in the preceding two weeks or in the following fortnight.

Ken's part-timers also have to take over whenever he is called away on 'union' business, for Ken is, and has been for the last twelve years, secretary of the Nottinghamshire branch of the National Federation of Sub-postmasters. If one of his federation members has a problem, Ken will be called upon to advise or hold discussions with the District Manager on their behalf. Sadly these days every sub-postmaster must seriously countenance the possibility of a raid on their premises. This is one problem where Ken has personal experience to offer, as he has been a victim himself on three separate occasions. He has been threatened with guns, bodily assaulted, and even trussed up with ropes. The consoling feature of all three raids is that all those involved were subsequently arrested, tried and convicted, and then spent a period of time in Her Majesty's prisons.

In spite of such experiences Ken Gulliver thoroughly enjoys his job and, even though it would now be possible for him to retire, Ken hopes to go on serving the Lenton public for many more years to come.

See also - Ken Gulliver's reminiscences in Lenton Times No.16.

All material on this site not covered by other copyright and not explicitly marked as public domain is © Lenton Times 2010 and must not be used without permission