Category Archives: Events

Mail Rail Book Reading Event

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.

Ben Bailey Smith, aka Doc Brown reads a short story by Ben Aaranovitch, 'King of the Rats'.

Ben Bailey Smith, aka Doc Brown reads a short story by Ben Aaranovitch, ‘King of the Rats’.

“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!

Ben Aaranovitch answers questions from the audience.

Ben Aaranovitch answers questions from the audience.

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

Spring Stampex 2015

Spring Stampex is just around the corner and will return to the Business Design Centre on Wednesday 18 February. Admission is FREE and we are delighted to once again have a stand at the show with the Friends of the BPMA.


You can find us at stand 102A on the Village Green at Ground Floor level.

The opening times are:

  • Wednesday 18 February 11:30 – 19:00
  • Thursday 19 February 10:00 – 18:00
  • Friday 20 February 10:00 – 18:00
  • Saturday 21 February 10:00 – 17:00

BPMA Director Adrian Steel will be giving a presentation on the development of the Postal Museum at the Business Design Centre at 13.00 on Thursday 19 February as part of the GBPS Diamond Jubilee Festival.  

Limited Edition Postcard featuring the poster ‘79,242 Postmen’. Mar 1939. Poster artist: Grant, Duncan.

Limited Edition Postcard featuring the poster ‘79,242 Postmen’. Mar 1939. Poster artist: Grant, Duncan.

We will be giving away FREE goodie bags to visitors, including a limited edition postcard produced especially for Stampex. Staff will also be available to answer questions and provide information on our forthcoming plans to open The Postal Museum, as well as sharing news about our upcoming events and activities.

Ahead of the forthcoming BPMA exhibition ‘Pop it in the Post’  opening on 28 March at Islington Museum – we will be marking the bicentenary of the birth of novelist, and pillar box pioneer Anthony Trollope,. Do also go along to our Freeling House Foyer and take a look at the 1853 Channel Islands pillar box- one of the oldest in the world.

Queen Victoria Channel Islands Pillar Box originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands OB1996.653

Queen Victoria Channel Islands Pillar Box originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands OB1996.653

The display will also include our ‘People’s Post’ activity where visitors can come and share their memories of the postal service; we’ll be asking a prompt question every day, so pop in and have a chat with us – we love a good story here at BPMA!

As usual, there will be a great selection of BPMA shop products to purchase and this will include Post & Go products and our popular homeware range. Please note that the Trollope products will be unavailable on the morning of the Wednesday 18th.

Trollope 2015 Presentation Pack

We look forward to seeing you both at Stampex and at Freeling House!

Sarah Jenkins – Fundraising Events Officer

Autumn Stampex 2014

IT’S BACK! On Wednesday 17 September, Stampex will open its doors once more at Business Design Centre. Entry is free, and we are delighted to have a stand at the show. Come visit us on:

  • Wed 17 September: 11.30am – 7pm
  • Thu 18 September: 10am – 6pm
  • Fri 19 September: 10am – 6pm
  • Sat 20 September: 10am – 5pm

Our stand will be situated at Gallery Bay 20. Gallery Bay 20 is immediately to the right of the stairway up from the main Mezzanine floor, half-way along the right-hand side.

The BPMA stand at Spring Stampex 2014

The BPMA stand at Spring Stampex 2014

We will be giving away FREE goodie bags to every visitor, including a limited edition postcard. We will also be sharing news about events and activities and will be available to answer questions and provide information on our forthcoming plans to open The Postal Museum.


Free limited edition postcard available at Stampex: Poster advertising post card rates. Hass, Derrick. 1954 POST 110/1322

There will be a great selection of BPMA shop stock to purchase including a new Stampex presentation pack and limited edition Airmail First Day Covers.


Stampex Autumn 2014 Presentation Pack

You can also browse our new Airmail range, full of great gift ideas for those near and far.

New banner

We will also have an exciting display marking 80 years of UK Inland Airmail, with facsimiles available of newspaper reports from 1934, documenting air mail trials via plane, and even rocket! We will also have a display marking the centenary of postage due stamps, first established in 1914.

Also available at the BPMA stand will be tickets to purchase for the BPMA evening talk taking place on Thursday 18 September, entitled ‘Postal Censorship during the First World War’ with Graham Mark. The talk is taking place on Thursday 18 September at 7pm, at the Phoenix Centre (next door to the BPMA), a 20 minute walk from the Business Design Centre. Light refreshments will be available from 6pm at the Phoenix Centre.

Innovation in the Air: 80 years of UK Inland Airmail

On August 20, the BPMA marked the 80th anniversary of UK Inland Airmail with the launch of a special commemorative Post & Go stamp, including a pictorial element for the first time. The stamp is available from the BPMA Post & Go machine at Freeling House. The underprint incorporates the airmail logo designed by Theyre Lee-Elliott in 1934 for use on Inland Airmail posters, flyers and labels, with the text “Inland Airmail 1934”. In a change to the currently available stamps the Machin head will feature on the Second Class as well as First Class denominations for the duration of the commemorative issue, replacing the previous Union Flag design.

Our Search Room foyer will be open throughout Stampex for those wishing to purchase Post & Go products. If you do visit the Post & Go machine at Freeling House, we would also encourage you to have a look at our slightly larger Inland Airmail exhibition, currently on display.

We look forward to seeing you both at Stampex and at Freeling House!

-Dominique Gardner, Exhibitions Officer

‘To Warwick with Love’ – The Private Postcards of an Aristocratic Family, 1914-1917

This Thursday we welcome Aaron Manning from the Warwick Castle History Team as he gives his evening talk ‘To Warwick with Love’ – The Private Postcards of an Aristocratic Family, 1914-1917.

Upon arrival enjoy a complimentary glass of wine and experience the nostalgic music of the First World War era. Then, sit back and allow Aaron to reveal, for the first time, a century-old hidden story from the castle.

First World War era postcard

First World War era postcard.

For nearly a hundred years a box of postcards lay hidden and untouched in the living quarters of the castle. A box of postcards that would tell the tragic story of how war tore apart the family of the Earl of Warwick. These intimate messages, sent between mother, father and children during the First World War, will be shared by Aaron in this fascinating, poignant talk.

Image (63)

Finish off your evening by further immersing yourself into the story through investigating first hand a selection of these copied postcards, with our speaker Aaron on hand to answer any of your questions.

To book your place:

Online at:
Phone us on 020 7239 2570

Event details:

Students from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Massachusetts visit the BPMA

We are a group of four students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA. At the beginning of the summer, from May 12th to June 28th, we had the privilege of working with the British Postal Museum and Archive to develop better visitor evaluation strategies. The goal of our project was to help improve visitor evaluation within their exhibitions which primarily focused on the Last Post Exhibition.

Mail Rail

WPI Students take a tour of Mail Rail

The overall experience was fantastic, filled with opportunities and memories. We were able to visit and explore some of the most popular museums in London including the Natural History, Victorian and Albert, and Science museums. At these museums, we observed visitors to identify what they enjoyed and see how the set up can affect visitor engagement.


Nysa at Last Post Coalbrookdale

We also had the pleasure of working with BPMA visitors. Getting to know those who enjoyed the BPMA’s work, and asking them for helpful insight into what they learned and what they think would improve the sites. Working at events and visiting the Last Post exhibition at Mansfield and Coalbrookdale was a thrilling experience; we not only learned about the exhibitions but also were able to test many different evaluation methods such as interview, surveys, creative writing/drawing activities and observations.


Shuyang with the postal uniform display

We gathered some informative and gratifying feedback, for example one visitor said she “…learned so much more about a city [she had] lived in for 40 years.” Others said that they “did not realize the extent of Post Office involvement in the First World War.” The feedback we gathered was helpful and greatly aided our research objectives.

Enjoying London

WPI Students enjoying London

Aside from gaining new knowledge about museum goers, as a team we were able to improve our professional writing skills, communicate with a broad range of people, and work efficiently in a group setting. This experience also enabled us to grow as young professionals; we believe this project has added to a foundation of what the working world is like.  Living in London was an experience of a lifetime; adapting and working in a different culture will enable us to adapt to all presented opportunities and continue to broaden our understanding of the world.

Thank you,

Angela, Nysa, Shuyang and George

Primary and secondary teachers needed for First World War focus group

First World War Teacher focus group. Thursday 19 June. 5.30-7pm.

We’re looking for teachers to take part in a focus group to consult on the development of a new digital First World War learning resource sponsored by Royal Mail. Teachers will be asked to feedback on draft designs and activity ideas across a range of National Curriculum subjects.

Students discover the First World War stories in our archive with Curator Vyki.

Students discover the First World War stories in our archive with Curator Vyki.

When: Thursday 19 June. 5.30-7pm
Where: 5 Almeida Street, London, N1 1AA 
(Directions will be provided)

You don’t need to prepare anything in advance. There will be complimentary refreshments and all participants will receive a £30 gift as a thank you.

To register your interest, please email Sally Sculthorpe, Learning Officer, at with your name, school and subject specialism by Friday 13 June.

Loughton Festival comes to the BPMA

It’s that time of the year again when Loughton, Essex celebrates its amazing cultural heritage at the Loughton Festival. Once more we’ll be opening the doors to our museum store in Debden to take part in this fantastic community event. There will be a range of great activities on offer over the two days providing entertainment for adults and children alike…

Vehicles, telephone boxes and more all at our Museum Store

Vehicles, telephone boxes and more all at our Museum Store!

Saturday – Adult Event

On Saturday come and take part in an artist-led workshop, where you will have the opportunity to design your own post-card or letter. From there take a self-guided tour exploring the highlights of our museum collection. From the iconic red telephone kiosks and post boxes to the Morris van, Mail Coach and ingenious Victorian pneumatic rail cars – they all tell the captivating story of communication past and present.

Letters with unusual addresses

Letters with unusual addresses.

We’ll also be joined by BPMA curator, Emma Harper, who will be giving a fascinating talk revealing some hidden gems from the collection. Relax with some drinks and nibbles, while Emma to takes you on a journey through over two centuries of “the curious culture of letter writing.”

When: Saturday 10 May 2014, Drop in from 10.00am-4.00pm, Evening talk and refreshments 4.00pm-5.00pm
The British Postal Museum Store, Essex
Book in advance for the evening talk

Sunday – Family Event

Drop in on Sunday where you will find an array of family friendly activities. Have a go at discovering mystery objects in our trail and win a prize if you succeed in your task.

For when you are feeling creative there will be craft activities on offer, including design and send your own post card – which you can send to family or friends for free! After that, try designing and building your own mini letter box.

There will also be the opportunity to find out what it was like be a postie from the past through trying on old uniforms and handling some real museum objects – remember to bring your camera!

When: Sunday 11 May 2014, Drop in from 10.00am-4.00pm
The British Postal Museum Store, Essex

-Hannah Clipson, Community Learning Officer