London’s underground Mail Rail is no stranger to long closures. In 2003, after 75 years of service, the six-and-a-half-mile tunnel route used to shepherd parcels and letters between Whitechapel and Paddington was shut down. The post workers left and the tunnels fell silent. It was opened up again as a tourist attraction at The Postal Museum in 2017, letting visitors hop aboard and ride the rail through the once-abandoned passageway. But thanks to the events of 2020, the Mail Rail has been quiet again since March, with only virtual trips available.
So it’s good news that, as other museums slowly start to reopen across the city, The Postal Museum has announced it plans to join them at the end of October. Visitors will be able to explore its exhibitions with new safety measures in place. They’ll also be able to hop back on the Mail Rail again, with reduced capacity and household bubbles divided from each other by perspex screens (it was made for post rather than people, after all).
The museum’s tunnel walks, which let you meander through the Mail Rail’s dark, winding subways on foot led by an expert guide, are also making a welcome return.
Smaller museums in particular have been hard hit this year, so it’s spiriting to see one of London’s quirky, lesser-known attractions back in action again. Laura Wright, CEO of The Postal Museum said: ‘We are so thrilled to be able to open to the public again. The post has connected people during the pandemic and continues to play a vital role.’
Tickets are now on sale for entry to the museum. They famously sell out fast, especially for the Mail Rail and tunnel walks, so look lively if you want a super-geeky journey into London's secret underground history.
The Postal Museum, 15-20 Phoenix Place, WC1X 0DA. Reopens on Oct 29. Tickets on sale through its website.