Once on board, I listened to an audio-visual narration by former Mail Rail engineers and technicians along with some history about the British Post Office. The ride lasts about 20 minutes with stops along the way at several stations, at a top speed of 7.5 miles per hour, although the mail was once delivered at much higher speeds.
Later, I visited the Postal Museum itself, which chronicles the history of the world’s first post office. I learned, among many other things, that in 1512 King Henry VIII appointed the first Master of the Posts to manage royal missives, and that post boys back then, some as young as 11, traveled on horseback between staging “posts” 20 miles apart. Thus the “post” in Post Office.
Before I left, I bought some stamps from a machine and some post cards from the gift shop and mailed them to friends. In this age of email, nothing says “I wish you were here” with quite as much feeling.
IF YOU GO
Reserved tickets for Mail Rail have sold out until early December 2017 at this writing, so it’s best to plan ahead. However, a limited number of walk-up tickets are available each day at 10 a.m. Tickets cost 14.50 pounds per adult and 7.25 pounds for children with discounts for those over 60 and students.
Mail Rail operates from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the Postal Museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
15-20 Phoenix Place, London WC1X