Post Offices of Lewis and Harris, past and present


The recent demolition of the old Post Office in Ardhasaig has prompted me to look back at some of the other Post Offices I’ve photographed in Harris and Lewis.

Ardhasaig Post Office

Ardhasaig Post Office

Anyone heading up or down the main A859 road just north of Tarbert will be familiar with this classic corrugated tin building. It’s been rusting for decades, taking on the colours of the landscape as it slowly deteriorated. There are still plenty of people on the island who remember visiting the little post office. It had a telephone box inside and the local kids would call in for bottles of Bon Accord pop and a choice of sweets from the Lucky Numbers and Quality Street tins.

Ardhasaig Post Office, overlooking West Loch Tarbert Isle of Harris

I took these photos in the early hours of 11/11/2011. Although the former post office has been looking a little worse for wear for many years, it didn’t collapse of its own accord. The site has now been cleared for the erection of a new house.

Ardhasaig Post Office

Here’s another island Post Office that is no more…


Amhuinnsuidhe Post Office

Amhuinnsuidhe Post Office

I took the photo above in May 2010. The Post Office had ceased trading by then and was in the process of being turned into ‘POST’ – a little shop of curiosities, operated by Pete and Christine Hope who were living in the house next door. This was a couple of years after Pete and Chris won TV’s Grand Designs Home of the Year 2008 for their ground up build of Blacksheep House, in Strond, Harris.

Unfortunately the cute little former post office in Amhuinnsuidhe is no more – it was demolished a few years ago.

Now on to a couple of Post Offices in Lewis, which are both still open for business.


Balallan Post Office

Balallan Post Office

A few months after posting the photo above, Kate Morgan sent me this great photo of her family posing outside the post office in 1968 (she’s the  little one, looking worriedly at her neighbour’s dog). Full write up on this story here.


Ness Post Office

Ness Post Office

Europe’s third most north-westerly post office (#1 and #2 are also in Ness) is still very much alive and kicking. I took this photo in January 2011, shortly afer midnight. I was keen to get a long exposure night shot of this cute little building, but when I arrived, the nearby streetlights were casting a horrible orange glow on everything. Disappointed, I got back in the van and headed for home. I’d driven about a mile down the main road through Ness when suddenly all the street lights went out. I did a quick U-turn and headed back to the Post Office. You can see the clouds were starting to move in, and it was just starting to spit rain. Just as I completed the 6 minute exposure, the heavens opened. Rain stopped play but I’d got what I wanted. Back to Harris…


Scarista Post Office

Scarista Post Office. December 22nd, 2010

When I took this photo in December 2010 the post office was still operating on a part-time basis – opening a few hours a day, two or three days a week. There’s a story associated with the door of the phonebox outside Scarista Post Office. Apparently its ‘double door’ was/is quite a rarity and was only fitted in remote and very windy locations. The ‘double door’ has since been replaced with a standard item, but I’ve got pictures of it in place, along with more K6 phonebox trivia in this blog post: A Phone Call from the Outer Hebrides. This photo story was also featured on Caught By The River.

I was back at Scarista Post Office again in October 2019. I’d been invited to demonstrate some of my lighting techniques to a group of photographers who were on a week long course run by Open Studio Workshops, organised by Adrian Hollister and Eddie Ephraums. For the last shot of the day I constructed this group portrait, which is a blend of multiple exposures, with each person individually lit. I’m on the far left, with wireless shutter release and flash trigger in hand.

Open Studio Workshop

Open Studio Workshop (plus one) at Scarista Post Office, October 2019

And finally…


Leverburgh Post Office closed in September 2017. I took this photo shortly before it closed, when I was experimenting with a Bronica film camera (more shots from that roll of film in my blog post: The Positive Negative Man).

Leverburgh Post Office

Leverburgh Post Office, 2017

I was around to capture the last ever sale at Leverburgh Post Office. Post mistress Diane was one of the first people to appear in my infrequent (but ongoing) series of portraits of people who live and work in the Outer Hebrides. You can see more of those here, and some background to the project, WORK: OUTER HEBRIDES (Part 1)

Diane on the last day of Leverburgh Post Office. September 2017

To round things off, here’s how the old Leverburgh Post Office looks today. It’s had a substantial makeover, gaining an upper floor in the process. Like my first photo of Leverburgh post office, the photo below was also shot on film, using a vintage Olympus Trip 35.

Borrisdale Tweed – formerly Leverburgh Post Office

The build is nearing completion (November 2020). I’ll be back at some point with pics of the finished article. The ground floor is home to Borrisdale Tweed, while the newly added upper floor will be living accomodation. The exterior cladding is a modern interpretation of the rusty corrugated tin featured at the top of the page: the ghost of Ardhasaig Post Office lives on in this contemporary rework of another former post office!

6 thoughts on “Post Offices of Lewis and Harris, past and present”

  1. Some great shots and an interesting post John. Since I was last up in your neck of the woods in 2012 it seems that you have lost way more than your fair share of community assets. In my book you should be getting more government backing, not less.
    All the best,

  2. That was very absorbing for me as we spend a lot of time on the islands and especially love the lonely and remot places. These days I mainly write poems poemblogtwentyfour.blogspot.com

  3. Love the photos, saw them recently on the tv when you were in Harris.
    Can I ask what the camera was you were using? It looked like a large format with no bellows!
    Are my eyes deceiving me?
    Old punk eyes maybe playing tricks on me?
    Superb work, love it!

    • Thanks Adam. Yes, large format. It’s a Sinar Norma 4×5. It was fitted with a bag bellows. All the interiors I shot with that camera were done with a 75mm lens. Regular concertina style bellows won’t allow any camera movements (shift, rise/fall) with such a short focal length, but the bag bellows does.
      Cheers, John

      • Many thanks, completely unfamiliar!
        Need to explore.
        Thank you so much for taking the time to respond…MASSIVE fan of the band from the early days thanks to John Peel!

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