The Postal Museum and Mail Rail

Museums, History Clerkenwell
4 out of 5 stars
(10user reviews)
The Postal Museum and Mail Rail
Mail Rail at The Postal Museum

The Postal Heritage Trust is a charity responsible for the archive and museum collections of Royal Mail, which contain records dating from 1636 and include reports, maps, posters and photos, plus stamps and objects documenting the development of the Post Office.

The museum has five zones exploring 500 hundred years of the postal world’s most significant events, with interactive exhibits, sculptures and sheets of rare stamps. Ogle at a gold Olympic post box, decipher Morse code at a 1930s writing bureau, taken on the role of a Mail Coach guard in an interactive game and watch films by the General Post Office’s own film unit including ‘Night Mail’ with words by W H Auden and music from Benjamin Britten.  

Tickets will also give access to the newly opened and revamped Mail Rail, a clandestine set of tunnels originally opened on 1927 and used to shuttle post around London for almost 80 years before its closure in 2013.

Posted:

Venue name: The Postal Museum and Mail Rail
Contact:
Address: 15-20
Phoenix Place
London
WC1X 0DA
Opening hours: 10am to 5pm
Transport: Tube: Farringdon/Chancery Lane
Price: Postal Museum only: £11, £9 concessions, free children. Museum and Mail Rail: £17.05, £15.40 concessions, £10.45 children
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  • Until Sunday January 13 2019

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Tastemaker

The 'postal museum and mail rail' is a great way to spend an afternoon. At £17.05 for adults the price is possibly more than you'd expect but this comes down to an incredible £6.25 if you have the National Art Pass. 

You'll first be guided out of the museum, across the road, to the Mail Rail. This was the highlight for me. A ride on a tiny tube running through the old Rail Mail passages that connected the major London hubs and helped post get around more efficiently than being driven across a congested inner city. If you're 6' 5", like me, then it is a little bit of a squeeze but well worth it for the 15 minute ride (which does include stops to watch short videos in old abandoned sorting stops).


After the ride you are taken through a short exhibition about the Mail Rail with lots of interactive areas for the children (and grown ups who love trains!). It is then time to return to the Postal Museum.


The museum itself takes you on a journey through time, exploring how the postal service was created and how it evolved to what we recognise today. It's not the longest but it keeps you engaged well and it again well designed for younger visitors too. 



If you haven't had enough, between Tuesday and Saturday you can also pop into the Discovery Room, which if free to enter, where you can delve into the archives, microfilms and reference library. It is well worth a visit on its own!

Tastemaker

This is one not just for the kids, but for the whole family! It is definitely on the pricey side for a fairly small venue, but the amount of history and the interactivity means that there is so much to do and see packed into a small space! And hey your ticket price is contributing to the preservation of an extremely vital (if you go you will be told why) function for the past century! 


The exhibition is split into two parts:


1. The museum (similar to standard museums) with a number of activities that really get you involved (think dressing up as postal workers from different eras, or creating your own digital stamp etc.) I must say I never received that digital stamp in my email though... 


2. The mail rail which is a short but cool ride underneath the tunnels that used to transport mail. It is not for the claustrophobic at all, but it is a highly unique experience and one that will be hard to match. Kids will definitely love it and will remember it for a long time. The augmented reality used on the videos shown at each stop is very well done and helps to bring life to what could have been an otherwise monotonous ride.


Overall it is definitely an interesting day out for the family and I would recommend it!

tastemaker

What a lovely/random underground adventure! Perfect when it’s a grey drizzling London day.

The carts are small - one bum wide really and there’s a perspecs lid (lol) so if you are claustrophobic probably not the one for you!

I was really impressed with the interesting historical videos that you watch at various stations. Very well put together and a nice surprise.

My friend absolutely loved it - he’s a train nerd and we spent some time exploring the museum itself after the Rail trip. It would be fantastic for kids day out, some good interactive displays.

tastemaker

I really didn't think I'd enjoy this as much as I did. 


The Rail Mail was extremely twee and fun, albeit very small (my boyfriend and I couldn't fit on the same seat). But the tunnels weren't designed for people so it's hardly an oversight. 


The empty and pristine platforms were eerie and haunting (in a good way) and the projections were a nice addition. The history associated with the tunnels is surprisingly interesting - I had no idea they were under there!


Anywho, I'd say the attraction is a little overpriced (given the Rail Mail ride is only 15 minutes long) but for young children who wouldn't appreciate the big London attractions yet - or if someone has done them all - this is the perfect afternoon activity.

tastemaker

Very enjoyable visit we had to The Postal Museum. No matter your age is very interesting specially the ride on the Postal Train. Its full of very interesting stories and artifacts, and the history is truly fascinating. The museum is quite small, reflects the distribution of the Royal Mail many years ago, its very curious to see how we communicated without the internet. Will recommend it on a day out with kids ! 



Tastemaker

The highlight is definitely the Mail Rail, no matter your age. The narration and projected images are slightly corny, but endearingly so. The tunnels themselves, and the history associated with them, are fascinating. But the train compartments are small, so they're not a good bet for someone with claustrophobic tendencies.


The highlight of the Postal Museum is definitely the Mail Rail. I actually wanted it to be longer. They've don a brilliant job in making film work along the ride to both inform and entertain in a way that suits both adults and children. The only downside to the Mai Rail is that the audio is hard to hear at times due to the noise from the rail itself. Otherwise, it's very well curated. After the ride you come to a very interactive part of the museum which explains more about the working life on the MailRail right up until its last running day in 2003. It's truly fascinating.


The Postal Museum itself is very well orchestrated and a decent size to give good information in a fun way, without bombarding you with details. It is very focused on educating children though, and some parts seemed less relevant for adults. But overall a very well balanced exhibition of both past and present day Royal Mail.


The museum also hosts a very nice cafe, courtyard and bike storage area (there's nowhere to park your bike outside otherwise). 


@Julie H

tastemaker

The Postal Museum and especially the train ride through the narrow tunnels is an unexpected treat. The train gives a glimpse into how mail was transported underneath London for over seventy years, cutting transport times hugely. During a few stops on the train, there are short, informative presentations. The museum itself is full of interesting facts and artefacts including a blue letter-box which was used for airmail.

tastemaker

I love how interactive it is! All the outfits are wonderful. I feel like the Mail Rail is overrated- expected so much more. I mean, it's ok, but didn't find it that interesting.

tastemaker

The Postal Museum was interesting, suitable for all ages, train spotters, stamp collectors  & general anoraks. The Mail Rail trip takes 15 minutes & is great fun.

It's a very well laid out museum, and totally lacking in stodginess - I recommend it. My partner who once worked for Royal Mail found it wonderful.....