Bottom line up front – The Postal Museum is overrated. It’s not very often we are disappointed with somewhere, but The Postal Museum was one of them.
There are a few reasons we were disappointed; it’s smaller than you might think, it’s expensive for what it is, and the Mail Ride doesn’t allow you to walk the tunnels, so you don’t get the iconic views you might hope for, and nor is it that long. You can walk the tunnels, but that’s an eye-watering £60 per person.
Anyway, this isn’t a drip about The Postal Museum because it’s not all bad and although we don’t recommend you pay to visit, you can visit The Postal Museum with The London Pass*, so you wouldn’t pay the entry fee, in which case, it might be worth visiting.
The Postal Museum and Mail Rail
So, what is The Postal Museum? It’s a museum in London that offers a somewhat unique opportunity to learn about the history of the postal service. From the origins of the postal service to present-day innovations. The Postal Museum includes the Mail Rail, with both parts spread across two sites, just a minute or two walk away from one another.
We would go as far as to say The Postal Museum part is more interesting than the Mail Rail in terms of visuals, although the latter has a more interesting history.
The Postal Museum
The Postal Museum opened in 2017 and is run by the Postal Heritage Trust. It’s a small museum home to a range of exhibits that showcase the history of the postal service and tells the story of postal communication in the UK, as well as its impact globally.
It shows you some displays along the way, like an old carriage, post boxes and even a vehicle that doubled up as a passenger-carrying bus to remote areas. The exhibition is split into several sections, each covering a different period in the history of the postal service.
You’ll find a cafe and gift shop in the museum, too, so you can grab your caffeine fix and take away a token of your visit.
Mail Rail at The Postal Museum
Unless you’re crazy about the postal service or love collecting stamps, you probably want to visit the museum for the Mail Rail. But what is the Rail Mail? It’s a ride on a little train that lasts about 15 minutes. The Mail Rail takes you along some of the old tunnels built under London, which used to transport mail across the city.
Along the way, you pass through some old platforms where you get some visuals on the platform walls from a projector about the Mail Rail’s past and some voiceovers from a former worker.
The Mail Rail is the highlight of The Postal Museum, but sadly, we don’t think it’s worth the money. We’d also recommend visiting outside of peak hours. We visited on a Saturday morning and spent about 45 minutes queuing for the 15-minute ride because.
We’d also seen the iconic pictures of the tunnels, so we were disappointed to find out you don’t get to walk any of the tunnels unless you pay for a special tunnel walk. At a staggering £60 per person, we suspect only the die-hard postal fans will be taking that offer up.
Mail Rail History
Undoubtedly, the history of the Mail Rail is fascinating, even if the ride isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And this is how it started.
The London Underground Mail Rail Network, also known as the Post Office Railway, was a narrow-gauge railway system used to transport mail across London from 1927 to 2003.
The Mail Rail network consisted of a 6.5 miles (10.5 km) route with eight stations, which connected major post offices and railway stations throughout the city. The tunnels were built to a narrow gauge of 2 ft (610 mm), and trains ran on electric power without a driver.
The Mail Rail was used to transport mail from sorting offices to railway stations and then to other sorting offices or post offices. The system was used to haul around four million letters a day during its peak in the 1930s.
Towards the end of its life, there were only three stations in use because of the relocation of the sorting offices above the stations. In the 1990s, the volume of mail transported by rail decreased, and the Mail Rail became less economically viable. In 2003, the system was closed, and the tunnels were abandoned. Fast forward 14 years, and the Mail Rail was opened to the public as a tourist attraction, conducting 9,000 trips totalling 6,213 miles in the first year of operation.
The Postal Museum Location, Opening Times & Prices
📍 15-20 Phoenix Pl, London, WC1X 0DA
💷 Paid entry (adults £16, young person £11, child £9). The ticket price includes unlimited access to The Postal Museum for one year from the date of your visit. Also included is one ride on Mail Rail, valid only on your first visit.
🕙 Wednesday to Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
📞 0300 0300 700
How long does it take to go around The Postal Museum?
It doesn’t take very long to get around The Postal Museum, but it could take a while for the Mail Rail. You could be in and out of the exhibition in ten to twenty minutes. If you read everything, you will need a little longer. The Mail Rail could take a while. Although the ride is only 15 minutes, the queues can take a while at peak times.
Is The Postal Museum worth visiting?
The Postal Museum is expensive for what it is, and we wouldn’t recommend a special visit unless you love the postal service, stamps or narrow-gauge railways. If you have The London Pass, you can get in inclusive of your pass, so it might be worth a visit.
How long is the Mail Rail ride?
You’ll spend around fifteen minutes on the train. At peak times, you might want to allow 20-40 minutes of queueing time.
Is the Mail Rail worth it?
No, is the short answer. It’s expensive for what it is.
- The Postal Museum and Mail Rail
- The Postal Museum
- Mail Rail at The Postal Museum
- Mail Rail History
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