06 June 2017
The new Postal Museum and Mail Rail is due to open in July, providing the chance for family historians to explore its archives – and discover London’s secret Post Office railway, hidden deep beneath the streets.
The new Postal Museum and Mail Rail is due to open on 28 July 2017, providing the chance for family historians to once more explore its archives – and discover London’s secret Post Office railway, hidden deep beneath the streets.
Formerly known as the British Postal Museum and Archive, the launch of The Postal Museum at its new home in Farringdon is good news for anyone researching postal ancestors, along with those interested in social and postal history. The archive, which is reopening its doors in a new purpose-built facility at the museum, spans more than 400 years of postal heritage, with topics ranging from staff pensions and transport to publicity material, and including the archive of Royal Mail Group PLC and Post Office Ltd. Most of the archive’s contents are public records and will be available for the public to visit and view for free on site.
One of the museum’s other star heritage attractions is Mail Rail (pictured), a specially made underground train experience, enabling visitors to journey ‘through time’ as they pass through the original tunnels and station platforms far below London’s Mount Pleasant.
The ride will be accompanied by a Mail Rail exhibition, housed deep in the former depot. Interactive displays and oral histories will enable visitors to discover some of the extraordinary stories behind the postal trains – which were a vital but hidden artery in Britain’s communication network between 1927 and 2003 – and the people who made them possible.
The hidden mail tunnels run for 6.5 miles, criss-crossing the Tube lines and connecting six sorting offices with Liverpool Street and Paddington mainline stations. At its peak, the service ran almost around-the-clock, employing more than 220 staff and carrying over four million letters a day. The tunnels were so secret, they were used to store the Rosetta Stone and national art treasures during World War I.