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Mail Rail tunnels
© James Tye / London Postal Museum

You can explore the Mail Rail again… on foot

The subterranean postal railway is offering tours without trains

By
Chris Waywell
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If in a bleak moment back in April you predicted that, come the autumn, you’d be wandering some dimly lit tunnel, famished and light-starved, one London attraction is about to make your nightmare come true. The Mail Rail in Clerkenwell is part of the London Postal Museum. It’s a unique, 100-year-old, underground railway, separate from the tube network, that was used during much of the twentieth century to ferry post across the capital. Writing a letter was – for many people – the primary form of communication and the post was a vital part of London’s economy and culture.

It eventually stopped running in 2003, but a decade later, the Mail Rail reopened for visitors, who could clamber into a tiny truck and be whisked across the city like a human Amazon delivery. Unfortunately, that isn’t ideal for social distancing, so the London Postal Museum has come up with a novel solution: ditch the trains and let people explore the tunnels on foot. 

While the museum remains closed, it is offering a very limited and exclusive chance to take a guided walking tour, with access to the tunnels, tracks and station platforms of the railway, including bits of the line that aren’t accessible on the usual Mail Rail ride. Expert guides will tell the story of the rail line – through peacetime and war – and no doubt offer a creepy anecdote or two, in case walking along a tunnel under millions of tons of London clay doesn’t provide enough of a frisson. (If it sounds like too much of a frisson, you can just take a virtual trip on the Mail Rail.)

And as for being famished, check out this list of restaurants that are open again.

London Postal Museum’s underground walks have already sold out for September and October. Sign up to the Postal Museum’s newsletter to be the first to hear when November and December tickets go on sale. Ages 12-plus. £55 per person. Book and view safety and access information here. 

Prefer the great outdoors? Here are some of London’s prettiest walks.

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