Lonely Planet Writer

London opens The Postal Museum, featuring a kilometre-long train ride through underground tunnels

Britains’s newest heritage attraction, The Postal Museum, has opened its doors to the public in central London, featuring a kilometre-long underground train ride attraction that brings guests on a journey through abandoned mail tunnels.

The train tunnels of The Postal Museum Mail Rail ride
The museum includes a kilometre-long train ride through subterranean London. Image by The Postal Museum/Miles Willis

The museum celebrates some of the lesser known history behind Britain’s postal network, leading visitors through five centuries of curiosities in an effort to provide a different view on significant past world events. The opening comes after a year and a half of planning to convert a disused Clerkenwell printing factory into the museum site, while work was done to bring the disused mail tunnels back to life for the first time in 100 years.

Jack Taylor/Getty Images
An employee posing beside a mail coach from the 1800s at the Postal Museum. Image by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

While last Friday marked the opening of the museum, the Mail Rail ride will not open to the public until September. It will see visitors descending into the former engineering depot at the old post office railway, before boarding a miniature train that transports them through stalactite-filled chambers of subterranean London, previously hidden from public view.

An old photograph from The Royal Mail Group archive showing the car depot of workshop of the rail service at display at The Postal Museum
An old photograph from The Royal Mail Group archive showing the car depot and workshop of the rail service. Image by The Royal Mail Group LTD/The Postal Museum

Each zone in the museum contains interactive exhibitions designed to bring stories to life, such as a growling lioness that tells the tale of an escaped circus lioness that once attacked a mail coach, and an interactive game where visitors take on the role of a mail coach guard.

Visitors can send a pneumatic message from one side of the postal museum to the other.
Visitors can send a pneumatic message from one side of the museum to the other. Image by The Postal Museum

Visitors are also able to decipher Morse code at a writing bureau from the 1930s, as well as writing a message before watching it disappear through a system of pneumatic tubes to be received by a stranger at the other side of the museum. Larger items on display include a 1941 motorbike used by postmen, a Bristol to London Mail Coach from the 1800s and a 1980s Dodge Spacevan post bus.

The new Mail Rail passenger train at The Postal Museum will open in September.
The new Mail Rail passenger train at The Postal Museum will open in September.

To mark its opening, The Postal Museum is holding a family extravaganza throughout the summer months, with daily events such as face painting, craft workshops and storytelling. More information on visiting is available at the official website, with advanced tickets also on sale.