The British Postal Museum and Archive

The British Postal Museum and Archive
Freeling House
Phoenix Place
London
WC1X 0DL

Website

www.postalheritage.org.uk

E-mail

info@postalheritage.org.uk

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.
BPMA
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The British Postal Museum & Archive cares for the visual, written and physical records of over 400 years of postal development. We are responsible for managing The Royal Mail Archive on behalf of Royal Mail Group plc. and own the former National Postal Museum object collections, a donation from Royal Mail Group plc.

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

Venue Type:

Museum, Archive

Opening hours

The Royal Mail Archive is open from 1000-1700 Mon-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.
Mail Rail train on track in underground tunnel.

Mail Rail: An Exhibition of Photographs

  • 23 July 2013 — 30 April 2015 *on now

From 1927 to 2003, Mail Rail transported post under some of London’s most recognisable landmarks from Paddington to Whitechapel. For over 10 years its trains, tracks and tunnels have laid dormant, silently gathering dust beneath the feet of unknowing Londoners and tourists.

Through exceptional images by Jonathan Bradley Photography this small exhibition provides a glimpse into the hidden world of Mail Rail, bringing it back to life. It captures snapshots of the network in its entirety as it was on the day service ceased.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Any age
Post Office Rifles on parade.

Last Post: Remembering the First World War - Flagship Exhibition

  • 11 April 2014 — 27 March 2015 *on now

To mark the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, the BPMA are exhibiting an extended version of Last Post, at the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron (part of Ironbridge Gorge Museums). On display will be a wealth of BPMA First World War objects, and material from Shropshire-born First World War Officer Wilfred Owen.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly

Where

Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron
Coalbrookdale, Telford, Shropshire
TF8 7DQ

Additional info

Monday – Sunday:
10.00am – 5.00pm

Annual passport tickets and single site tickets for Ironbridge Gorge Museums
are available which include entry to the exhibition in the admission price.
Please see the Museum’s website www.ironbridge.org.uk for more information.

Admission

Open Monday to Friday only

Close up of postman crossing over the river Swale using a bridge, near Arkengarthdale.

The Post Office in Pictures

  • 30 March — 11 April 2015

Discover the story of the Post Office and its people through a selection of nostalgic images from the BPMA collection. Explore the incredible lengths postal workers went to in ensuring the safe delivery of letters and parcels, and the unusual, unexpected situations encountered along the way.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly

Where

Rural Arts
The Old Courthouse, Westgate, Thirsk, North Yorkshire
Y07 1QS

Admission

Dates and times of display may vary so please contact Rural Arts before travelling.

Website

http://www.ruralarts.org/

Sheet of Penny Black stamps signed by Rowland Hill at Newgate Street publicity shop

Penny Black 175

  • 6 May — 7 August 2015

Victorian Britain was a place of fast-paced reform and innovation. In 1840, one reform was to change lives forever – the introduction of the world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black.

To celebrate its 175th anniversary, this exhibition tells the story of the creation of the Penny Black and its phenomenal social impact. On display will be an original sheet of the iconic Penny Blacks, offering a rare opportunity to view this stand-out object up close.

**Due to the annual archival stock take, within this period the Search Room will be closed June 1st - 12th (open on Saturday 13th June).

Suitable for

  • 14-15
  • 18+
  • 16-17
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.
Post Office Court sign

From Pillar to Post: GPO London Walking Tour

  • 24 January 2015 11am-1pm
  • 22 February 2015 11am-1pm
  • 21 March 2015 11am-1pm
  • 26 April 2015 11am-1pm
  • 23 May 2015 11am-1pm
  • 21 June 2015 11am-1pm

Join an accredited guide for a walking tour through 350 years of London’s history to reveal how the ingenuity of the postal service shaped the world we live in today. From the coffee houses of the 1600s to the electronic communication of today, walks include the story of Victorian postal reform, the growth of the GPO, the evolution of Mail Rail and the development of post boxes and telephone kiosks. All GPO walking tours are led by trained and accredited guides for Clerkenwell and Islington, and the City of London.

Walks start at Farringdon Station at 11.00am, last around 2 hours, and end near Bank Station.

No need to book, just turn up and meet the guide, who will be wearing a Cityguides badge.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+

Where

Farringdon Station
London
EC1M 6BY

Admission

£7
£6 for concessions (60+)
£5 for BPMA Friends
Free for accompanied children under 12 years old

Archivit Helen showing a group around the repositry.

11 February Tour of the Archive

  • 11 February 2015 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

  • Family friendly
  • 7-10
  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 18+

Admission

Free entry. Suggested donation £2 per person

Letters

‘No one writes to the General’ with Maria Vasquez-Aguilar

  • 26 February 2015 7-8pm

11 September 1973 saw the military overthrow of the President of Chile. What followed was a brutal regime, under General Pinochet, which was to last 17 years, causing the death, torture and disappearances of thousands of men, women and children. This talk will look at the role the postal service unwittingly played during those years. From
linking Chilean refugees and activists in the UK to help counter censorship, to raising awareness to the outside world of the horrors being played out in Chile.

Suitable for

  • 16-17
  • 18+
  • Not suitable for children

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.

Aerial shot of museum store.

4 March Museum Store Tour

  • 4 March 2015 1-3pm

Just 35 minutes from Central London on the Central Line sits the imposing BPMA Museum Store. It contains thousands of objects, from iconic red telephone kiosks, post boxes and vehicles to Morris vans, mail coaches and ingenious Victorian pneumatic rail cars.

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.

Sketch showing postman uniforms over 300+ years.

Unstitching the Uniform with Joanna Espin, BPMA Curator

  • 26 March 2015 6-8pm

Discover the fascinating stories and rich social history hidden within the British Postal Museum & Archive’s Uniform Collection. Join Curator Joanna Espin, and explore the development of postal uniforms, the lives of the people who wore them, and the cultural significance they held.

Suitable for

  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+

Where

Guildhall Library
Guildhall, 5 Aldermanbury, London
EC2V 7HH

Admission

Booking information coming soon.

Website

https://unstitchingtheuniform.eventbrite.co.uk/

Museum store tour

1 April Museum Store Tour

  • 1 April 2015 1-3pm

Just 35 minutes from Central London on the Central Line sits the imposing BPMA Museum Store. It contains thousands of objects, from iconic red telephone kiosks, post boxes and vehicles to Morris vans, mail coaches and ingenious Victorian pneumatic rail cars.

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.

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

8 April Tour of the Archive

  • 8 April 2015 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

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

Admission

Free entry. Suggested donation £2 per person

Anthony Trollope's signature handstamp  Used while on official duties for the Post Office.

‘My dear Tony…’ with Julian Stray, BPMA Senior Curator

  • 30 April 2015 7-8pm

200 years ago a great Victorian novelist was born, Anthony Trollope. But, as explored in this fascinating talk, his life extended far beyond his writing. Julian Stray will share with us the eventful postal career of Trollope. From his early days as a misbehaving clerk at postal headquarters to globe trotting troubleshooter and, remarkably, pioneer of the pillar box in 1852.

Suitable for

  • 16-17
  • 18+

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.

Museum store

6 May Museum Store Tour at 1pm

  • 6 May 2015 1-3pm

Just 35 minutes from Central London on the Central Line sits the imposing BPMA Museum Store. It contains thousands of objects, from iconic red telephone kiosks, post boxes and vehicles to Morris vans, mail coaches and ingenious Victorian pneumatic rail cars.

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.

Museum store

6 May Museum Store Tour 10am

  • 6 May 2015 10am-12pm

Just 35 minutes from Central London on the Central Line sits the imposing BPMA Museum Store. It contains thousands of objects, from iconic red telephone kiosks, post boxes and vehicles to Morris vans, mail coaches and ingenious Victorian pneumatic rail cars.

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.

Postmenand soldiers gathered around a pillarbox following a air raid.

The Post Office Went to War

  • 9 May 2015 10am-5pm

In March 1915, after months of training, the Post Office Rifles arrived in France and were almost immediately thrown into the battle of Festubert – one of the major offensives of the First World War. Documenting his experiences of at the time was postal worker and Post Office Rifleman Thomas May. Join us on Saturday 9 May to find out more about life at the Front and at home for the thousands of Post Office employees who, like May, dedicated themselves to the war effort. Immerse yourself in the stories of these posties from the past, before ending the day with some drinks and nibbles and a fascinating talk on how the Post Office went to war.

Drop-in from 10.00am-4.00pm
Evening talk and refreshments: 4.00pm-5.00pm

This event is part of the Loughton Festival 2015:
www.loughtonfestival.org.uk

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • 16-17

Where

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

Museum store

1 June Museum Store Tour

  • 1 June 2015 6-8pm

Just 35 minutes from Central London on the Central Line sits the imposing BPMA Museum Store. It contains thousands of objects, from iconic red telephone kiosks, post boxes and vehicles to Morris vans, mail coaches and ingenious Victorian pneumatic rail cars.

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.

Museum store

3 June Museum Store Tour

  • 3 June 2015 1-3pm

Just 35 minutes from Central London on the Central Line sits the imposing BPMA Museum Store. It contains thousands of objects, from iconic red telephone kiosks, post boxes and vehicles to Morris vans, mail coaches and ingenious Victorian pneumatic rail cars.

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.

Julian Sayarer sitting on the side of the road with his bicycle.

Letters from a Long Road with Julian Sayarer

  • 4 June 2015 7-8pm

For 169 days in 2009 Julian Sayarer cycled 110 miles a day through 20 countries on his way to breaking the world record for a circumnavigation by bicycle.Reflecting on his 18,049 mile challenge, his book Life Cycles tells of his experiences on the road in a time of paper maps and before smart phones. In his talk, Julian will tell of his remarkable feat and the companionship he found in a notepad and letters while away from home.

Julian Sayarer’s book Life Cycles is available now from all good bookshops.

Suitable for

  • 16-17
  • 18+

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://lifecycles.eventbrite.co.uk

Herbert Joyce in the Muniment Room

17 June Tour of the Archive

  • 17 June 2015 From 3pm

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

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

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