With building works to transform Mail Rail into an exciting and immersive national visitor attraction as part of The Postal Museum set to begin in the next few months, opportunities to show off this extraordinary and inspiring space in all its mothballed glory are becoming increasingly limited. Hannah Clipson, BPMA Community Learning Officer tells us about a recent event which did just that…
From 1927 to 2003, Mail Rail transported huge volumes of post under the streets of London, beneath the feet of millions of blissfully unaware commuters and tradesmen going about their daily business 70 feet above. Opened in an age when the horse and cart ran alongside new-fangled automobiles, it was a technological innovation that kept people in touch across ever-greater distances and at ever-greater speed. Since the last shift when workers downed their tools in 2003, the Mail Rail has sat, silently gathering dust. Until now!
On 25 March, a lucky group of visitors were granted access to this hidden landmark as the Mail Rail Car Depot, where trains from across the network were brought for repair, became the dramatic backdrop for a very special BPMA event.
In collaboration with Cityread London 2015, an annual celebration that encourages all of London to pick up the same book and read it together, Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Sunday Times best-selling urban fantasy/crime fiction series Rivers of London, unveiled a special new short story, King of the Rats, read by comedian, rapper and entertainer Doc Brown, aka Ben Bailey Smith.
“When a self-styled King of the Rats crashes a corporate do hosted by Fleet and Tyburn naturally the Folly are called in. Peter and Kumar have to determine whether his majesty is the legitimate ruler of the rat nation or a sad man with a rodent fixation.
And they’d better do it fast before irate Rivers decide to embark on a bit of DIY pest control.”
After being treated to this new instalment, fans were able to pick the author’s brain during a lively Q&A session!
The evening marked the start of Cityread’s 2015 season. Over the next month Rivers of London will be the theme behind a programme of exciting events across all 33 London boroughs.
You can hear the full story, read by Doc Brown, below