Friday, 19 April 2019

Walking Mail Rail

 

One of the most exciting new museums is the Postal Museum, which opened its doors - and its legendary railway - in 2017. The Mail Rail had transported letters and parcels below the city for three-quarters of a century before it finally closed in 2003, but was not for passengers or the public. A stretch of this celebrated, if hidden, network now forms the centrepiece of the museum: a fifteen-minute ride in a specially-created passenger train allows visitors both to experience this very special underground rail system and to learn its history.


Museum supporters have been given a very special opportunity to walk the railway lines. As a member of SubBrit, I was able to join one of those tours and get a closer look at some of the features of the Post Office Railway. 



A pneumatic railway ran for a while in the nineteenth century, but had long closed when underground mail transport was reconsidered at the start of the twentieth. The Post Office (London) Railway Act 1913 allowed construction to begin the following year and over six miles of tunneling was completed by 1917. However, World War One delayed the installation of operating equipment, and post-war reconstruction kept the cost of materials high for some years; the railway finally opened in 1927. 


Stations, corresponding to parcel offices and district offices above-ground, had wide platforms for loading and unloading the carriages quickly. Some of the equipment is still visible today.



The 'graveyard'

The 'graveyard'










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