The Postal Museum

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Opening in early 2017, our new museum in Clerkenwell, London, will reveal stories from five centuries of Britain’s remarkable, and often curious, social and communications history through the eyes of one of its most iconic services.

Venue Type:

Museum, Archive

Opening hours

The Royal Mail Archive is open from 1000-1700 Tues-Fri, and from 1000-1900 Thurs. We are also open on selected Saturdays 1000-1700 (PLEASE CALL OR SEE WEBSITE FOR DATES). No appointment needed for most archive material. The philatelic collection may be viewed by appointment - please call for details.

Closed: Sundays, Bank Holidays and Christmas week. Annual stocktake closure period (PLEASE CALL OR SEE WEBSITE FOR DATES).

Admission charges

Free entry to the Search Room and exhibition area. Please bring ID.

Additional info

The Royal Mail Archive is open for the public to use and enjoy. We also have a small exhibition area at The Royal Mail Archive to show highlights from our philatelic collections. You can visit the exhibition for free whenever the archive is open.

The entire collection of the British Postal Museum & Archive is a Designated Collection of national importance.

The archives relate to the operation, policy, development and social impact of the British Post Office from 1636 to the present day. The collection is outstanding in terms of its evidential, historical and cultural value and represents a comprehensive and complete coverage of the role the Post Office in employment history, overseas expansion, communications and community cohesion.

We are a combined Museum and Archive...an internationally important resource for social - and postal - history.

The Royal Mail Archive is open to the public 5-6 days a week. It contains records of The Post Office and Royal Mail from the seventeenth century to the present day.

The British Postal Museum Store houses objects ranging from the desk of Rowland Hill (founder of the Penny Post), to Mobile Post Office vehicles and an astounding assortment of letter boxes. The store is open to the public on various dates throughout the summer (PLEASE CALL OR SEE WEBSITE FOR DATES).

Collection details

Trade and Commerce, Toys and Hobbies, Social History, Science and Technology, Photography, Music, Literature, Land Transport, Industry, Film and Media, Design, Costume and Textiles, Aviation, Archives

Key artists and exhibits

  • Penny Black
  • Great Britain Stamps
  • Phillips Philatelic Collection
  • Letterboxes
  • Postal vehicles
  • Postal uniforms
  • Sorting machines
  • Hand stamps
  • Posters
  • Artwork
  • Photographs
  • Documentary films
  • Family History sources
  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Shipbourne Road Post Office. A postman collects mail from a sub-office. Post Offices were often the hub of local communities. As well as selling stamps and other postal products and services over the counter, Shipbourne Road Post Office also sold groceries.

Museum of the Post Office in the Community

  • 9 September 2012 — 1 January 2019 *on now

Located above the Victorian Post Office at Blists Hill Victorian Town, the Museum of the Post Office in the Community explores the vital role the Post Office has played in the lives of generations of Britons. From opening up long-distance communications to the masses, to providing essential services in the most remote communities in the country.

The exhibition tells this fascinating story through a series of remarkable objects including a five-wheeled ‘Hen and Chicks’ cycle, early examples of a telegram and instantly recognisable postal icons including letter boxes and motorbikes.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly

Where

Blists Hill Victorian Town
Legges Way, Telford, Shropshire
TF7 5DU

Additional info

Monday – Sunday:
10.00am – 5.00pm
(4.00pm Nov – Mar)

Admission charges apply, exhibition entry included in ticket price. See www.ironbridge.org.uk or telephone 01952 884391 for further details.

Admission

Admission charges apply, exhibition entry included in ticket price.

See www.ironbridge.org.uk or telephone 01952 884391 for further details.

Website

http://www.postalheritage.org.uk/visiting/ironbridge/

A member of The Amies crafts her own version of a classic postal uniform

Unstitching the Uniform

  • 18 November 2015 — 30 June 2016 *on now

The Postal Museum has recently been working collaboratively with The Amies - a group of ten ladies who were brought together by PAN Arts, and The Poppy Project - an organisation that provides support, advocacy and accommodation for women who have been trafficked.

The Amies have unravelled many of the stories about the wide variety of uniforms held in our collection and sewn their own versions of key uniform items, enabling us to stage this small exhibition.

Come and visit to learn more about the fascinating developments in postal uniform, often pioneered by the staff that needed them, and explore the journey of The Amies.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • 16-17
  • 14-15
Illustrated image of a postman emptying a pillar box.

Pop it in the Post: Your World at the end of the street

  • 6 January — 26 March 2016 *on now

For over 160 years, people in Britain have been able to stick a stamp on a letter and post the letter into a pillar box – keeping in touch with people in cities, towns and villages everywhere. This family-friendly exhibition explores the new and sometimes quirky ideas that made this possible.

Discover the story of the letter writing revolution, enabled by the world’s first ever stamp, and the UK’s first pillar boxes. Meet the individuals who made this possible, and understand how millions of people’s lives were changed. The world was now available to everyone - simply through the pillar box (so-called because of its resemblance to a pillar or to a column) at the end of your street.

2015 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of the novelist Anthony Trollope. When working for the Post Office, Trollope first suggested the idea of the pillar box for the UK. They were introduced in 1852. 2015 also marks the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black – the world’s first adhesive stamp, introduced in 1840.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Where

Havering Museum
19-21 High Street
Romford
RM1 1JU

Ronnie Biggs' mugshot

The Great Train Robbery

  • 1 February — 2 May 2016 *on now

This exhibition explores the events and impact of the Great Train Robbery over fifty years on, and the subsequent investigations that took place, in particular the key role that The Post Office Investigation Department played in helping the police uncover the events of the robbery and apprehend those involved.

The robbery and its impact are explored through previously unreleased files and photographs, illustrating the effects the robbery had on the Travelling Post Office service and the wide security changes brought in by the Post Office.

There is also the chance to handle facsimiles of the original files and photographs.

Where

Guildford Museum
Castle Arch, Quarry Street
Guildford
GU1 3SX
England

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Mark Mason talks about his book 'Mail Obsession', in which he unearths at least one piece of trivia from each of the UK's postcode areas, from AB to ZE.

Mail Obsession: A Journey Round Britain by Postcode with Mark Mason

  • 11 February 2016 7-8pm *on now

Mark Mason talks about his book 'Mail Obsession', in which he unearths at least one piece of trivia from each of the UK's postcode areas, from AB to ZE. He discovers what the Queen keeps in her handbag, why the Jack Russell has a white coat and how Jimi Hendrix got confused by the M1. He also explores the history of mail in general, including Oscar Wilde's unusual method of posting letters.

Where

Phoenix Centre
Phoenix Place, London
WC1X 0DL

Getting there

Next door to the BPMA Search Room

Admission

Cost: £3.00 per person, £2.50 for concessions (60+). Free for accompanied children under 12 years old.

Website

https://markmasontalk.eventbrite.co.uk

Museum store

2 March Museum Store Tour

  • 2 March 2016 1-3pm

Join us on a curator-led behind the scenes tour for a walk through hundreds of years of British social history, and get up close to some of our most iconic objects.

Visits include two 30-minute curator-led tours, complimentary refreshments and an opportunity to explore the collection at your leisure. Please note that you will be required to stand for the duration of each 30 minute tour.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • 14-15
  • 18+
  • 11-13
  • 16-17

Where

BPMA Museum Store
3 Imprimo Park, Lenthall Rd, Loughton, Essex
IG10 3UF

Admission

£3.00
£2.50 for concessions (60+).
Free for accompanied children under 12 years old.

Website

https://2marstoretour.eventbrite.co.uk

Museum store

6 April Museum Store Tour

  • 6 April 2016 1-3pm

Join us on a curator-led behind the scenes tour for a walk through hundreds of years of British social history, and get up close to some of our most iconic objects.

Visits include two 30-minute curator-led tours, complimentary refreshments and an opportunity to explore the collection at your leisure. Please note that you will be required to stand for the duration of each 30 minute tour.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • 11-13
  • 16-17
  • 14-15
  • 18+

Where

BPMA Museum Store
3 Imprimo Park, Lenthall Rd, Loughton, Essex
IG10 3UF

Admission

£3.00
£2.50 for concessions (60+).
Free for accompanied children under 12 years old.

Website

https://6aprstoretour.eventbrite.co.uk

Herbert Joyce in the Muniment Room

6 April Tour of the Archive

  • 6 April 2016 3-4pm

Join us for an introduction to the extraordinary social history collections of BPMA with a behind the scenes tour of the archive. Laid out over 2.5 miles of shelving and covering social, communications and design history from 1636 to the present day, BPMA’s archivists will reveal the fascinating stories of British and world history through the eyes of one of the country’s most iconic services.

Suitable for

  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 7-10
  • 18+
  • 16-17

Admission

Free entry. Suggested donation £2 per person. Limited to 10 places - book now to avoid disappointment!

Website

https://6aprarchtour.eventbrite.co.uk

Museum store

4 May Museum Store Tour

  • 4 May 2016 1-3pm

Join us on a curator-led behind the scenes tour for a walk through hundreds of years of British social history, and get up close to some of our most iconic objects.

Visits include two 30-minute curator-led tours, complimentary refreshments and an opportunity to explore the collection at your leisure. Please note that you will be required to stand for the duration of each 30 minute tour.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • 14-15
  • 18+
  • 11-13
  • 16-17

Where

BPMA Museum Store
3 Imprimo Park, Lenthall Rd, Loughton, Essex
IG10 3UF

Admission

£3.00
£2.50 for concessions (60+).
Free for accompanied children under 12 years old.

Website

https://4maystoretour.eventbrite.co.uk

Museum store

1 June Museum Store Tour

  • 1 June 2016 1-3pm

Join us on a curator-led behind the scenes tour for a walk through hundreds of years of British social history, and get up close to some of our most iconic objects.

Visits include two 30-minute curator-led tours, complimentary refreshments and an opportunity to explore the collection at your leisure. Please note that you will be required to stand for the duration of each 30 minute tour.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+

Where

BPMA Museum Store
3 Imprimo Park, Lenthall Rd, Loughton, Essex
IG10 3UF

Admission

£3.00
£2.50 for concessions (60+).
Free for accompanied children under 12 years old.

Website

https://1junstoretour.eventbrite.co.uk

Mr Herbert Joyce, who brought together the archives under one roof in 1896

1 June Tour of the Archive

  • 1 June 2016 3-4pm

Join us for an introduction to the extraordinary social history collections of The British Postal Museum & Archive with a behind the scenes tour of the archive. Laid out over 2.5 miles of shelving and covering social, communications and design history from 1636 to the present day, BPMA’s archivists will reveal the fascinating stories of British and world history through the eyes of one of the country’s most iconic services.

Suitable for

  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+

Admission

Free entry. Suggested donation £2 per person. Limited to 10 places - book now to avoid disappointment!

Website

https://1junarchtour.eventbrite.co.uk

Museum store tour

6 June Museum Store Tour

  • 6 June 2016 6-8pm

Join us on a curator-led behind the scenes tour for a walk through hundreds of years of British social history, and get up close to some of our most iconic objects.

Visits include two 30-minute curator-led tours, complimentary refreshments and an opportunity to explore the collection at your leisure. Please note that you will be required to stand for the duration of each 30 minute tour.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+

Where

BPMA Museum Store
3 Imprimo Park, Lenthall Rd, Loughton, Essex
IG10 3UF

Admission

£3.00
£2.50 for concessions (60+).
Free for accompanied children under 12 years old.

Website

https://6junstoretour.eventbrite.co.uk

‘The Last Minute Posters’ by Vanessa Bell

The GPO Poster Advisory Group: A Short and Colourful History with Matt Tantony

  • 9 June 2016 7-8pm

In 1934, the Post Office assembled a group of eminent art experts who sought out high-quality art for use in publicity posters. They commissioned work from many British artists, including Bloomsbury’s own Vanessa Bell. But her design proved so controversial it helped trigger the Poster Advisory Group’s acrimonious collapse after only a few years. What went wrong? Postal Museum Archivist Matt Tantony explores the incredible archival evidence from this short-lived experiment in public art.

Where

Phoenix Centre
Phoenix Place, London
WC1X 0DL

Getting there

Next door to the BPMA Search Room

Admission

£3.00
£2.50 for concessions (60+).
Free for accompanied children under 12 years old.

Website

https://gpoposteradvisorygrouptalk.eventbrite.co.uk

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Messages Through Time

http://www.postalheritage.org.uk/learning

Messages Through Time is a document pack produced in 2003 for use by schools at Key Stage 3.
Messages Through Time gives a glimpse into the huge and fascinating collection in The Royal Mail Archive.
It comes in two parts: a collection of documents, and a teachers' handbook. The teachers' handbook is organised into themes related to the Key Stage 3 History curriculum and starts with a section exploring examples of historical evidence. Further themes follow the chronological programmes of study, as well as suggesting activities for Citizenship.
Each theme includes class activities and photocopy masters for Activity Sheets. The documents themselves are accompanied by detailed descriptions

How to obtain

To obtain a high-quality printed hard copy for £10, please email info@postalheritage.org.uk
To view Messages Through Time online visit our website www.postalheritage.org.uk

The Postal Museum
Freeling House
Phoenix Place
London
WC1X 0DL

Website

www.postalmuseum.org

E-mail

info@postalmuseum.org

Telephone

Enquiries /Event booking

020 7239 2570

Fax

020 7239 2576

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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