Tag Archives: Islington

Autumn 2015 Stampex is coming!

How time flies…Autumn Stampex 2015 is just around the corner and will return to the Business Design Centre on Wednesday 16th September. Admission is FREE and we are delighted to once again have a stand at the show.

You can find us at stand 118A on the Village Green at Ground Floor level, listed as ‘The BPMA & Friends’ and under ‘S’ in the exhibition guide.

The opening times are:

Wednesday 16th September 11.30 to 19.00
Thursday 17th September 10.00 to 18.00
Friday 18th September 10.00 to 18.00
Saturday 19th September 10.00 to 17.00

View of the Village Green. London 2015 Europhilex

View of the Village Green. London 2015 Europhilex

We will be giving away a limited number of FREE goodie bags to visitors, including a one-off postcard on the theme of Sea Transport produced especially for Stampex, so you’ll have to be quick!

Map of the world with lines running from the British Isles, showing steamship routes. Illustration by Macdonald Gill

Map of the world with lines running from the British Isles, showing steamship routes. Illustration by Macdonald Gill

We will also be available to answer questions and provide updates on the development of The Postal Museum, as well as share news about our upcoming events and activities.

On Thursday 17th September, Naomi Games, daughter of designer Abram Games, will be giving a talk about her father’s stamp designs. So, if you are coming to the show, round of your trip by joining us for what promises to be fascinating talk!

As usual, there will be a great selection of BPMA shop stock to purchase such as items from our popular homeware range. There will also be Post & Go products coinciding with the introduction of the new Heraldic Lion Post & Go stamp to the BPMA Post & Go+ machine.

Please note that some Post & Go products may not be available for sale at the stand until late morning on Weds 16th.

We look forward to seeing you at Stampex!

Sarah Jenkins – Fundraising Events Officer

Getting ready for Europhilex 2015

BPMA newbie and Fundraising Assistant Cat shares all that has gone into preparing for the largest stamp event in Europe – Europhilex 2015

I have just had my two month anniversary working for the BPMA and what a busy two months it has been! I don’t think I could have joined the BPMA at a better time with so many events coming up and it being such a crucial time in the run up to the opening of The Postal Museum and Mail Rail. At the moment, my work has been largely focusing on philately (my new favourite word) and the upcoming Europhilex show. I have been working really closely with our Fundraising Events Officer, Sarah Jenkins who having worked on the regular Stampex shows, has been my philately guru and mentor.

Reading through our article in the London 2015 newsletter

Reading through our article in the Europhilex newsletter

Together, we have made our way through what has sometimes seemed a never-ending to-do list to prepare the BPMA stand at Europhilex. One of the highlights of my first week was watching Sarah and our Marketing and Commercial Assistant Katie use their creativity to map out the stand space in an empty office, using any objects they could find. I think it was at this point that I realised this job was going to be an interesting and unique one!

One lucky winner will go home with a print from the original Penny Black die - visit our stand this week for more details

One lucky winner will go home with a print from the original Penny Black die – visit our stand this week for more details.

I have been amazed at just how much work goes into every event that the BPMA hold. Talks about Europhilex began months before I even started. For the stand, we have worked to a strict timetable with regular meetings discussing all of the details in turn.  I will admit this now;  in these meetings I often found myself writing words in my pad and referring to my good friend Google….the nod and smile tactic was used quite a lot. There have been a lot of discussions around the star of the show – the Machin cast – which will have its own spotlight and plinth. Treatment fit for a Queen!

The Star of the Show - the Machin Cast

The Star of the Show – the Machin Cast

Alongside planning the stand, I have also been organising bits ‘n bobs for events we are holding around Europhilex week including an Afternoon Tea for invited guests. I constantly made the error of ordering cakes and canapés for these events before lunch. I never knew a job could also make you so hungry. This experience has been an incredible one and I am just so excited to see it all in action next week at Europhilex. Wish me luck!

If you want to follow our progress next week then stay tuned to the BPMA on Twitter, where I will be posting updates all week.’

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.

stampexlogo

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

Royal Agricultural Hall during the First World War

This week we teamed up with Islington Local History Centre and Museum as part of the wider Explore Your Archive campaign to connect local archives with one another and the wider community. For this post, BPMA Archivist Helen Dafter and Islington Local History Manager Mark Aston discuss the importance of the Royal Agricultural Hall during the First World War: censoring POW parcels while continuing to host exhibitions, fairs and shows.

The foundation stone of the Agricultural Hall (or ‘Aggie’), Upper Street, Islington was laid on 16 November 1861 and the following year, the hall was officially opened. Originally built for the Smithfield Club as a venue for livestock and agricultural shows, the hall hosted a wide variety of displays, entertainments and sporting events. It was so well patronised by royalty that from 1885 it became the Royal Agricultural Hall (RAH).

The Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, from Liverpool Road before the First World War. Courtesy of Islington Local History Centre.

The Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, from Liverpool Road before the First World War. Courtesy of Islington Local History Centre.

During the First World War, it was largely ‘business as usual’ for the Aggie as it continued to stage exhibitions and present shows, despite the conflict brought to the home front. The complex, however, had not gone unnoticed by the government and Gilbey Hall was requisitioned by the War Office for official use in June 1916.

Work inspecting parcels for Prisoners of War was transferred from the Northern District Office on nearby Upper Street to the Gilbey Hall. This was due to space constraints that the Northern District Office which were made worse by the census of Prisoner of War parcels at this time. Gilbey Hall was regarded as being particularly suitable for this work because of its proximity to Mount Pleasant sorting office. It was also conveniently located for railway termini and had sufficient space to store parcels if onward routes were suspended.

By August 1916 concerns were expressed over the other demands on the RAH. Horse shows required the full use of the complex, including Gilbey Hall. The RAH were keen to know the Post Office’s intentions with regard to this building. A letter written at this time states ‘It is a pity that if the part is wanted the whole should not have been taken, as I understand this was contemplated. Instead of which the authorities chose to build a great place in Regents Park at enormous expense.’ (POST 56/245). The ‘great place’ referred to was the Home Depot.

A captured German Albatross fighter plane being paraded at Ludgate Circus. This was possible the same aircraft exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, in November 1918. Courtesy of Islington Local History Centre.

A captured German Albatross fighter plane being paraded at Ludgate Circus. This was possible the same aircraft exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, in November 1918. Courtesy of Islington Local History Centre.

Livestock, dairy and horse shows continued to take place at the RAH throughout the early years of the First World War. In October 1914, the British Dairy Farmers Association held its 39th annual show at the hall, at which King George V won a silver medal in the pigeon section. Two months later, the King was awarded prizes for cattle breeds at the hall’s Smithfield Club Show. December that year also witnessed a horse show and the World’s Fair, which featured a circus, a fun-fair and animal shows. The next few years followed in similar fashion: livestock and horse shows, trade and business fairs and entertainments, with the ever-popular World Fair continuing to attract huge crowds.

On 15 November 1918, just four days after the armistice, the aftermath of the war came to the RAH with an exhibition of German military aircraft. For a one shilling (5p) entrance fee, the public could view what the newspapers described as ‘samples’ of enemy aircraft, not ‘trophies’.  Upon its opening by Lord Weir, Secretary of State for the Air, six airships and an entire squadron of Handley Page bombers flew in formation over the RAH, while all day an observation balloon hovered above the exhibition.

Among the ‘samples’ on show was a twin-engine Gotha that was “brought down” recently during a raid on London.  In fact, the aeroplane was created from parts from a number of shot down aircraft. Other planes included a AEG reconnaissance aircraft, a Friedrichshafen bomber, the latter accompanied by three metre long bomb weighing over half a ton, and a red, single seat Fokker bi-plane, once belonging to the ‘Richthofen’ circus. One of the main attractions was an Albatross fighter plane in which Prince Charles of Prussia was forced down and captured in March 1917.

Horn family of Islington at a fair at the Royal Agricultural Hall in 1916. Frederick (father) with children, Eva, Alice and Harry. Frederick was on leave from the front. He survived the war. Courtesy of Islington Local History Centre.

Horn family of Islington at a fair at the Royal Agricultural Hall in 1916. Frederick (father) with children, Eva, Alice and Harry. Frederick was on leave from the front. He survived the war. Courtesy of Islington Local History Centre.

A military presence continued at the hall in 1919 with a series of auctions of government service motor vehicles and accessories. And, in true RAH style, the event was hailed as the “largest auction sale of motor accessories ever held!”

Islington Local History Centre holds the archive of the Royal Agricultural Hall Company Limited, which contains deeds and maintenance records, correspondence, ledgers, cash books, letting agreements and exhibition programmes and posters (c1861-1999).

Mail Rail gets the green light

Last week we received some very exciting news with regard to our plans for the new museum as Islington Borough Council approved our planning application to develop a stretch of the old Post Office Underground Railway – Mail Rail – into a unique subterranean ride.

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Waiting in the Dark ©Jonathan Bradley 

The announcement resulted in a great deal of media coverage for the BPMA including pieces on the TimeOut, Daily Mail, Wired and BBC News websites.

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Staff working on Mail Rail 

The decision means that, as part of a visit to The Postal Museum, due to open in central London in 2016, visitors will be able to explore the hidden world of Mail Rail under Mount Pleasant through an interactive exhibition and a 12-15 minute subterranean ride through 1km of the original tunnels, following the same route that much of the nation’s mail took for nearly 80 years from 1927-2003.

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The BPMA’s vision for Mail Rail 

The Mail Rail ride is part of the BPMA’s project to create the Postal Museum which will reveal the extraordinary stories of British social, communications and design history through the universally iconic postal service. By opening up almost 400 years of records and objects from the reign of King Charles I to the present day, The Postal Museum will reveal unusual and exciting episodes from British history. It will showcase curious items including a first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, original evidence from the Great Train Robbery trial, a Victoria Cross and flintlock pistols used to defend Mail Coaches in the 19th Century.

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delivering…The Postal Museum 

We are still waiting on the outcome of an application for £4.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a decision on which is expected in May this year, which will allow us to start construction work on the Postal Museum, now including the Mail Rail ride. This is obviously a very exciting time for us here at the BPMA and we look forward to sharing our progress with you over the coming months. 

Historic Duplicate Stamp Sale to Benefit New Home for The British Postal Museum & Archive

  • Sotheby’s will stage an historic auction featuring duplicate stamps from the British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA)
  • Important sale, estimated by Sotheby’s to bring in excess of £5 million, will support a spectacular new home for the British Postal Museum & Archive, set to open in early 2016
  • State-of-the-art centre will represent an exciting addition to London’s cultural landscape, showcasing the BPMA’s world-class collections and celebrating a unique aspect of British heritage
  • New museum will serve as a key cultural hub as part of a major regeneration scheme in Camden & Islington

On 11th July 2013 Sotheby’s will stage an historic auction featuring surplus duplicate stamps from the British Postal Museum & Archive. The auction will provide essential funds for a state-of-the-art new home for the BPMA, representing an exciting addition to London’s cultural landscape when it opens in 2016.

Visualisation of BPMA's New Centre at Calthorpe House.

Visualisation of BPMA’s New Centre at Calthorpe House.

New Home for Britain’s Postal History

Described by Mayor of London Boris Johnson as “a national treasure of global importance”, the BPMA is the leading resource for all aspects of British postal heritage. It cares for the visual and written records of 400 years of British postal, social and design history, comprising over 60,000 artefacts and 2.5 miles of archives. Together, the collections and archive tell a fascinating human story of British communication, industry and innovation, illuminating and celebrating a unique and integral part of the nation’s heritage.

Under a scheme endorsed by the Government and backed by Britain’s leading heritage organisations, the BPMA is planning a new Postal Museum and Archive to provide a first class home for its archive and collections, which are currently held in storage and largely inaccessible to the general public. The new centre will be situated in Calthorpe House, in the London Borough of Camden, adjoining the country’s oldest mail centre at Mount Pleasant.

World-class Archive and Collections

As well as featuring a purpose-built archive repository, the new Postal Museum and Archive will feature spectacular exhibition spaces to showcase the BPMA’s archive and collections, which range from postal vehicles to pillar boxes, staff records, posters, photographs, uniforms, weapons and the world’s greatest collection of British stamps.

Poster: 79,242 Postmen, Duncan Grant, 1939.

Poster: 79,242 Postmen, Duncan Grant, 1939.

Highlights include every British stamp issued from 1840 to the present day; original evidence from the Great Train Robbery trial; the world’s first commercial Christmas card produced in 1843; a 1930s art-deco Mobile Post Office; Valentine’s Day cards dating from c. 1790; telegrams relating to the Titanic disaster; weapons used to protect the mail against theft or piracy; a digital Oral History collection recounting the personal stories of hundreds of current and retired postal staff from around Britain; a first edition of ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce, intercepted in the post for being obscene; uniforms of Victorian River Postmen; a Travelling Post Office railway coach; films produced by the iconic GPO film unit; telegrams sent by the royal family; medals awarded to Post Office Employees including a rare Victoria Cross; and posters, prints and paintings by celebrated artists including Edward Bawden, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.

Understanding and celebrating Britain’s postal heritage and wider social history

The new Postal Museum and Archive will feature a state-of-the-art education centre and extensive research facilities, designed to encourage school children, students and the wider public to learn from and be inspired by postal heritage in all its depth and context. The new education space will increase the BPMA’s annual educational engagement from 2,000 to 12,000 pupils, representing a 600% increase on its current offering.

Key examples of how the BPMA’s collections reflect Britain’s social history:

  • In 1840 the launch of the Penny Black, the world’s first prepaid stamp, encouraged people to write and became a vehicle for education, friendship and commerce
  • The opening of Post Office Savings Bank backed by the Government in 1861 encouraged people of all walks of life to save money safely and to help combat debt
  • W. Reginald Bray became the first ‘human letter’ when he posted himself, later emulated by two suffragettes who attempted to have themselves delivered to Downing Street
  • During WW1 the Post Office co-ordinated all army mail and by 1918 had 22,000 pigeons carrying messages to the front
  • In 1943 the world’s first programmable electronic computer was built by the GPO’s Tommy Flowers, helping to break many German encrypted codes during WW2

Mail Rail: London’s Best Kept Secret

As an added visitor attraction, the BPMA is exploring plans to convert a section of Mail Rail, the former underground Post Office railway network. Introduced in 1927 and operational until 2003, Mail Rail was the world’s first driverless electrified railway, which revolutionised the delivery of mail in the UK. To this day it remains the world’s only dedicated underground mail transport system, representing an important and largely unseen element of Britain’s industrial heritage.

Poster design: Post Office Tube Railway, Edward Bawden, c. 1935.

Poster design: Post Office Tube Railway, Edward Bawden, c. 1935.

Subject to sufficient funding, the Mail Rail depot at Mount Pleasant will be transformed into an immersive visitor centre, introducing a fascinating 15 minute ride on the Mail Rail network on newly-designed trains through the existing tunnels.

Benefitting the local area and contributing to an improved sense of community

Bridging the boroughs of Camden and Islington, the new Postal Museum and Archive will serve as an important cultural hub and community resource. As well as offering cultural and training opportunities for young people, the BPMA will organise out-of-school cultural opportunities and strong community outreach programmes, contributing to a vibrant Camden and Islington.

Historic Stamp Sale

The project to develop the new Postal Museum and Archive will cost approximately £22 million and a fundraising campaign is currently underway, with considerable support from Royal Mail and Post Office Limited. Other funding is in place from the Heritage Lottery Fund and from the BPMA itself.

As part of the fundraising campaign, the BPMA is pursuing two sales of surplus duplicate philatelic material currently held in its custody though not part of its accessioned collections. The historic auctions will take place at Sotheby’s, which held the first ever stamp auction in Europe in 1872. The first sale, held on 11th July 2013, will comprise 191 lots and is estimated by Sotheby’s to bring in excess of £5 million.

One of the duplicate items for sale: Seahorse ‘Registration’ sheets, 1923, one of only two such sheets in existence.

One of the duplicate items for sale: Seahorse ‘Registration’ sheets, 1923, one of only two such sheets in existence.

Adrian Steel, Director of the BPMA, said:

Since we first announced our project to open a new first class home for Britain’s postal heritage in London last year we have received widespread support, and following last month’s announcement of this sale it has been great to receive encouragement from those who want to play their part in our fundraising campaign by participating in the auction. The BPMA’s collections are of the utmost richness in iconic British heritage and engaging personal stories, and from family historians to families who want to immerse themselves in something new as part of a day out in London, our new centre offers something sparkling with fascination and enjoyment for everyone. It will safeguard all our collections into the future, and by taking up the chance to own the rare philatelic specimens on offer at Sotheby’s, all potential buyers can feel proud that they are helping to safeguard the originals, and all our world class collections, from Penny Blacks to packet ship records, for the nation and the world to enjoy.