Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Full steam ahead for mail rail as plans get green light

Mail Rail
On Monday 10 March Islington Borough Council approved the British Postal Museum & Archive’s planning application to develop a stretch of the old Post Office Underground Railway – Mail Rail – into a unique subterranean ride.

The decision means that visitors to the newly created Postal Museum, due to open in central London in 2016, will be given the opportunity to explore the hidden world of this railway under Mount Pleasant through an engaging exhibition and interactive ride. In total, visitors will be taken through 1km of the original tunnels, following the same route that much of the nation’s mail took for nearly 80 years from 1927-2003.

The Mail Rail ride is part of a much larger project that the BPMA is undertaking to reveal the extraordinary stories of British social, communications and design history through the universally iconic postal service. By opening up almost 400 years of records and objects from the reign of King Charles I to the present day, The Postal Museum will reveal unusual and exciting episodes from British history. It will showcase curious items including a first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, original evidence from the Great Train Robbery trial, a Victoria Cross and flintlock pistols used to defend Mail Coaches in the 19th Century.

Adrian Steel, Director of the BPMA commented, “It is fantastic that Islington Borough Council has given us the green light to open up these unique tunnels to the public and reveal the captivating story of Mail Rail. Making this exciting project a reality still requires a further £0.5m, but this is a major boost to our plans and for Islington’s, Camden’s and London’s heritage offer. We hope to launch a public appeal later this year, both in the local community and further afield, and look forward to welcoming our first visitors in 2016.”

The BPMA is currently waiting on the outcome of an application for £4.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A decision is expected in May this year.