The world's oldest Post Office has been saved - ending fears it would shut after more than 300 years
The Sanquhar Post Office first opened its doors in 1712
The world's first and oldest Post Office - officially recognised by Guinness World Records - has been saved as faces a secure future after more than 300 years of trading.
New owners Barry and Mary Ford have announced they are taking over the Sanquhar Post Office, which first opened its doors in 1712.
The successful end to the long search for a new postmaster means the historic site will keep its accolade - and doors to the 311-year institution will remain open.
In recent years it has become an unlikely tourist attraction for stamp collectors, as well as a ‘lifeline’ for elderly people in the community of Sanquhar, Dumfries and Galloway, who depend on it for banking.
But there were fears for its future when the previous postmaster Dr Manzoor Alam, who had run it since 2015, announced his plan to retire in 2020.
Sadly, Dr Alam died last November and although Nazra had kept it running since, she said she had wanted to move back to the Midlands to be closer to her family.
Its closure would have seen the 'oldest' title conceded to a branch in Stockholm, Sweden, which opened in 1720.
But Mr and Mrs Ford have now become only the 17th owners in its long history - and said they were attracted to the site after discovering her old family links to the area.
Mrs Ford, 57, who was from Motherwell, researched her family tree after finding a pair of gloves in the Sanquhar pattern while going through her late mother's possessions.
This revealed family ties to the nearby town of Muirkirk and Mr Ford said when they read about the vacancy it was "fate."
They were living in Florida at the time.
Mr Ford, 60, a former RAF serviceman, who is originally from Lincolnshire, said: "I was an avid stamp collector as a child and to discover that Mary's ancestors were from the local area was fate.
Mary and I are very excited and humbled to be serving this community and we also look forward to welcoming tourists from both near and far who come to visit Sanquhar."
The Post Office had previously bounced back from the brink of closure in 2015, when it was taken over by Dr Alamand his wife Nazra.
Speaking at the time they announced their impending departure, Nazra said: “It’s breaking my heart but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. If my health was better, I’d carry on but I’ve got to call it a day now - it’s really sad.
“I’d hate to think it’ll shut down and become a supermarket or something."
The branch was put on the market for £275,000, and comes with a three-bedroom cottage.
The Post Office is popular with its banking service as Sanquhar, which is home to around just 2,000 people, only has one bank - after the closure of the town’s RBS in 2014.
The branch is also an attraction for tourists, post enthusiasts and stamp collectors, who seek to have their letters hand stamped at the world’s oldest Post Office.
Mum-of-two Nazra formerly worked as a nurse before taking over the branch with two part-time assistants.
One local councillor said it would be a "sad day" if it ever had to close and said a lot of rural areas were struggling to keep their post offices open.
A Post Office spokesman said: “We are proud of the heritage of Sanquhar Post Office and are committed to preserving it into the future."