Published on August 7th, 2017 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw
The Postal Museum Goes Underground
The newly opened Postal Museum in London offers visitors a unique insight into the history of our postal service.
Located in the Mount Pleasant sorting office at Clerkenwell, the Postal Museum offers a great day out during the summer holidays. Providing five centuries’ worth of history of the postal service, the museum celebrates the world’s first “social network”.
There are five interactive zones where visitors can take part in an array of activities. This includes creating a stamp with your own head on it, in place of the Queen’s.
You can also watch various films from the General Post Office’s archive, including the infamous “Night Mail” film that brings together the words of WH Auden and music of Benjamin Britten.
In addition, there is currently a fascinating exhibition, Writing Home: Letters as a Lifeline showing how people stayed in touch using letters and parcels in times of adversity including war.
Following a similar vein, the Men of Letters book is available now at the Post Office Shop. It is a collection of personal stories, letters and diary entries from members of the Post Office Rifles during World War One.
The Mail Rail
At the beginning of September, the Postal Museum opens the Mail Rail underground trains to the public for the first time. For over 75 years, from the 1920s to 2003, the mail rail transported letters and parcels from Paddington to Whitechapel. It linked six sorting offices to the mainline railway network to deliver four million letters per day.
During its peak, the mail rail operated for 22 hours a day and employed 220 staff. From 4th September, the public will be able to hop on board replica carriages and travel through this incredible underground network.
The train will stop at various points along the route and visitors can watch video footage telling the story of the Mail Rail. Sound clips of Mail Rail engineers will bring this subterranean space to life.
Following the ride, visitors will be able to step into a replica of a real-life Travelling Post Office. With a shaking floor, you will be able to experience just what it was like for the postal workers.
A Rare Look at the Penny Black
One of the memorable exhibits at the new Postal Museum is a sheet of the world’s first stamps, the Penny Black. It is one of just a few sheets left in existence.
Whilst here at the Post Office Shop we cannot sell you priceless Penny Black stamps, we do have some unique Penny Black memorabilia and gifts. The Penny Post collection includes notebooks, travel wallets, purses and scarves featuring the iconic Penny Black design.
You can plan your visit to the Postal Museum and book tickets for the Mail Rail by visiting their website here.