New Postal Museum and historic underground Mail Rail to open in London in 2016

By Richard Moss | 03 June 2014

The British Postal Museum is expanding into a major National Museum in London by 2016


a photo of a group of people holding up placards with words spelling "the postal museum coming 2016"
Staff at the British Postal Museum and Archive celebrate their National Lottery funding© BPMA
The British Postal Museum & Archive has been awarded £4.5m by the Heritage Lottery Fund to realise its ambitious plans for a new national museum in London  and open part of the old Post Office Underground Railway - the Mail Rail - as a heritage attraction.

The new museum, which will be known simply as The Postal Museum, will be built at Calthorpe House in the Mount Pleasant area of Camden next to one of the city’s busiest sorting offices and in the same street as the current BPMA premises.

Charting almost 400 years of Britain’s social history through the story of the Post Office and the Royal Mail – the new museum is promising to deliver a fascinating story of communications and design and bring to light the extraordinary stories of one organisation’s constant struggle to keep the world in touch.

In addition to the permanent museum the BPMA also plans to open parts of the unique Mail Rail system to the public for the first time in its history.

The electric underground railway was in operation beneath the streets of the capital between 1927 and 2003 using driverless engines to ferry mail between sorting offices across London.

New trains will carry people, rather than post through a section of the original tunnels before exploring an interactive and atmospheric exhibition in the Car Depot at Mount Pleasant, where train maintenance was undertaken throughout the railway’s life.

BPMA’s Director, Adrian Steel, promised  “a world-class, sustainable museum that will highlight the important story of our universally recognisable postal service”.

“From the Napoleonic wars to piracy, the invention of the first computer to the advent of instant communication, the postal service has played a vital role in both British, and global, history and shaping the world as we know it today. We thank HLF for showing its support to this important project”.

Approximately 95% funded, the BPMA is now focusing on raising the remaining capital necessary to enter the build phase, with construction expected to begin towards the end of 2014.

The new coincides with the launch of a new project website, Postalmuseum.org carrying the latest news and information on The Postal Museum, including Mail Rail.  

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