In 2017, the Postal Museum opened with one major attraction: an underground ‘Mail Rail’ 6.5 mile (10.5km) tunnel route which was once used to shepherd postcards and parcels between Whitechapel and Paddington. The route ran for 75 years until it was closed in 2003, so there was a lot of excitement when the ‘Mail Rail’ reopened as an attraction. The cramped little train was designed for post, not people, but now visitors could climb aboard and ride the rail through the once-abandoned passageway. The postal route has since been forced to shut down again, and so the museum has turned it into a virtual tour with ‘Mail Rail from Home’.
The new digital ride is narrated by former Mail Rail engineer Ray Middlesworth, who we can confirm has a very reassuring voice. Throughout the 10-minute journey, Ray shares stories about the route’s history (did you know Bruce Willis filmed ‘Hudson Hawk’ down there? Neither did we). And if you’re interested in exploring the rest of The Postal Museum, you can use its ‘Make a Connection’ feature to have a browse through the old-timey vehicles and post boxes in its collection.
The Mail Rail’s express purpose, for the 75 years it was in action, was to keep post moving beneath London, 22 hours a day. It was there to keep everyone in the country connected to a world beyond their own. We could all use a bit of that right now.
Ride the Mail Rail from home, here.
Read our interview with Ray Middlesworth, who worked on the Mail Rail for 30 years.
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