Royal Mail is to sponsor Mail Rail, an exhibition at The Postal Museum in London, UK, which is scheduled to open in July 2017.
The five-year partnership will see Royal Mail and The Postal Museum collaborate to give visitors a chance to experience the UK’s postal network first-hand for the first time in its 100-year history. The new museum in the UK capital will share stories about the history of the postal industry, and trains carrying people (rather than post) on a looping mile of track around Mount Pleasant sorting station will enable visitors to experience what it was like to transport mail underground.
Moya Greene, CEO, Royal Mail Group, said, “We are delighted to be supporting Mail Rail at The Postal Museum, an exciting new exhibit and ride. Over the last 500 years, the delivery of mail has changed beyond recognition, from a small group of King’s Messengers to a national network connecting people, companies and communities across the UK.
“During this time Royal Mail has been responsible for a number of world firsts. Transporting mail underground is definitely one of them. We are excited for people to experience this forgotten gem in mail delivery.”
Royal Mail first devised the concept of transporting mail underground in the mid-1800s. The pneumatic system, which ran from Euston station to the Eversholt Street sorting office, launched in 1863 and saw rail cars sucked or blown through a tunnel.
The idea was revisited in the early 20th century, when congested streets and pollution meant that mail, which was being transported by road between main post offices and railway stations in London, was severely delayed. Excavation and building work for an underground rail network began in 1913 but was paused a year later with the outbreak of the First World War.
The rail, which ran from Paddington District Sorting Office in the west of London to the Eastern District Sorting Office at Whitechapel, opened in late 1927 and used electrically powered driverless trains. A total of 90 narrow gauge trains originally ran over the 22 miles of track in the system, which was operational for more than 76 years. At its peak, the railway ran for 22 hours a day, moving millions of items of mail across the capital. In a single day, it could carry up to four million letters and parcels.
Dr Adrian Steel, director, The Postal Museum, said, “Mail Rail was an unprecedented engineering marvel in its time, and is testament to the innovation and dedication of Royal Mail throughout its 500 years to ever speed up communication. Royal Mail is a very fitting sponsor and we look forward to working together to bring this amazing piece of history to life and making Mail Rail at The Postal Museum a major, successful attraction.”
The Postal Museum is set to open on July 28 at Phoenix Place, London, UK.
June 15, 2017