New Postal Museum looks to tell story of the “incredible British invention”

The London-based museum includes historic artefacts dating from the last 500 years, and is also set to reimagine London’s “Mail Rail” system with an interactive, subterranean visitor experience.

The Mail Rail at the Postal Museum, © The Postal Museum

Update 9 August 2017: The Postal Museum has confirmed that the exhibition space was designed by consultancy Haley Sharpe Design.

A new museum has opened in London that documents five centuries of Britain’s postal system.

The Postal Museum is based in a disused printing factory in Clerkenwell, and features a permanent exhibition space with historic artefacts and interactive displays that aim to bring the history of post delivery to life.

The exhibition is divided into five zones that lead visitors through five centuries of the postal service, with exhibits including the sculpture of Elizabeth II used to produce the image that has been replicated on more than 220 billion stamps to date, a gold coloured Olympic post box from the 2012 games, and a five-wheeled bicycle invented during the Victoria era to cope with a huge increase in post.

Visitors are also able to play an interactive game where they take on the role of a male coach guard, and watch films produced by the General Post Office’s own film unit, which was set up in the 1930s to promote its work.

Across the road from the museum at Phoenix Place, the century-old Post Office railway system that transported mail all over London 22 hours a day is being reimagined.

From September onwards, visitors will be able to look around the former engineering depot of the “Mail Rail”, and board a miniature train that will transport them through the original tunnels used to carry the post.

“Quirky social history”

Production company Centre Screen has created two large-scale films shown on the Mail Rail ride, one of which offers an insight into the key moments in its history, while the other features a projection-mapped recreation of a platform as it would have been in 1936, before showing the journey of three letters across the capital.

The consultancy has also created an in-train audio commentary and the introductory film that visitors see before they board the train.

The Postal Museum director Adrian Steel, says: “The museum itself opens up the chance for people to gain an insight into some of the quirky social history behind an incredible British invention – the post, while Mail Rail affords people a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore a slice of subterranean London, previously hidden from public view.”

The museum has not confirmed at the time of publishing if any other consultancies have been involved in the design of the museum.

The Postal Museum is now open at Phoenix Place, Clerkenwell, London WC1X 0DA. The Mail Rail will open from 4 September 2017. Entry starts from £5 for children, £11 for adults and £9 for concessions. For more information, visit The Postal Museum’s site.

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  • Alex Mckenna August 1, 2017 at 9:46 am

    It looks like it’s just for kiddies – this is Postman Pat’s scenery and props. I was hoping for a more serious adult look at the history and artifacts. Hopefully the real thing will be more interesting for the over 8s..

  • Stef August 1, 2017 at 10:27 am

    M Worldwide did the fabulous retail experiences – a smooth integration of the overall visitor experience, with spaces designed to be flexible and easily repurposed on a regular basis for things like events:

  • Jim August 2, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Expensive for what it is, and not a very big site!

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