Raid-hit Burnley post office re-opens

Barbara Atkinson and son Peter Harrison outside the Post Office on Coal Clough Lane. (s)
Barbara Atkinson and son Peter Harrison outside the Post Office on Coal Clough Lane. (s)

The Coal Clough community is getting behind the reopening of a Burnley post office which was ram-raided on Easter Sunday.

It will be a double celebration when post master Peter Harrison and his family open the shop door to customers on Monday, August 14th and mark 60 years of owning the store in Coal Clough Lane.

“The whole experience of the raid has been awful,” the 53 year-old said. “We haven’t been able to trade for four months and residents and others local businesses have missed the store, as it keeps people shopping in the area.

“But everything is coming together now and hopefully we’ll be able to pick up the pieces.”

Extensive building work to restore the shop has now reached completion and includes additional security. Damage was caused when offenders attempted to break into the ATM at the side of the building by driving a van into the wall. The cash machine, however, will not be replaced until a decision is made at the end of August to install ram-raid bollards.

“I woke up at 3am to people in balaclavas bashing into the wall. It was frightening,” Peter said. “The van ripped out the whole of the gable end and destroyed most of the inside shop. The roof came down and tills were damaged. My mum was devastated, as the post office has been our family home for so long.”

But it’s not the first time the building has been targeted: since Peter’s parents, John Harrison and Barbara Atkinson, took it on in 1957, the family has also faced two attempted armed robberies.

After John died in 1965, Barbara single-handedly ran the business for 21 years. Even today, the formidable 83 year-old can still be found working in store every Wednesday.

“She’s always been active and full of energy - she still plays tennis!” said Peter.

“We’ve had to put the raid behind us and move on,” he added. “I’ve missed all our customers so I’m looking forward to seeing them again. After running the post office for 30 years, they’ve become more like friends and their support has been fantastic.”

Related content

Gang ram-raid Burnley cash machine