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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 12:14 GMT
Bethlehem post attracts festive flock
Bethlehem post office
The office is in the old school building
People from around the world have flocked to Bethlehem in Carmarthenshire to get special franks on their Christmas post.

The village has not had its own post office for 14 years but people still went there to get their envelopes stamped.

Bethlehem post office
Cards and gifs are available at the office

However, the stamp now has an official status after Royal Mail reopened a small post office in the village in July.

Visitors from as far afield as Australia, America and Holland have been taking advantage of the festive name.

Before the relaunch, the special franking took place at a post office in the nearby town of Llandeilo.

"The Royal Mail has resurrected a service which it used to provide until 1988," said Postmaster Mike Williams.

He was delighted to have expanded at a time when many rural offices were being closed.

Until two years ago, a local Bethlehem man used to design and sell a unique stamp for people to buy, which was then followed by the Llandeilo service.

This year, visitors are delighted to be returning to Bethlehem, where they can send franked letters by first class or by air mail.

"It is good to have it back in Bethlehem," said Mr Jones, who lives 30 miles away and was passing by on his lunch-hour.

"When it was in Llandeilo, it may as well have been in Ammanford or Carmarthen," he added.
Bethlehem postmark
Letters are given the Bethlehem postmark

Barry and Mary Soar, who live in Germany, had returned to Wales to spend Christmas with Mr Soar's mother.

He said that visiting Bethlehem was something of a family tradition, but said he was surprised to hear the office was open.

"It is great to have it back in the village - I thought it had packed up."

"It is a nice memento and we are sending them to friends all around the world," he added.

Possible expansion

Post office clerk Tracy Furlong said it had been very busy over the last few weeks.

She added that a Christmas card competition by local schoolchildren had been extremely popular.

Nine-year-old Carys Jones from Ffairfach C.P. School won, and her design was turned into a card.

"We had hundreds of them made and they have all sold out," said Ms Furlong.

Ms Furlong also said that the small shop could be expanded in the New Year.

"We might look at selling more than cards and little gifts," she said.

"There is not a little shop in the area, so basic groceries like bread and milk could be a start."

The post office is located in the old school house, which is now used as a community hall.


More from south west Wales
See also:

14 Dec 02 | Wales
29 Dec 99 | Wales
19 Dec 99 | Wales
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