Tag Archives: Museum of Army Flying

World War I exhibition on tour

Last Post: Remembering the First World War, an exhibition curated by the BPMA and the Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms, is once again on tour. The exhibition explores the vital role played by the Post Office during the First World War, telling the stories of postal workers at war and on the Home Front, and examining the essential role played by postal communications.

Last Post is currently on display at two venues, the Museum of Army Flying, Hampshire, and the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum in Fife, Scotland. Later this year it will travel to the Guildhall Library, London, and Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire.

Telegraph lines in the trenches. (POST 56/6)

Telegraph lines in the trenches. (POST 56/6)

The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum is a particularly apt venue for this exhibition on wartime communications. While Andrew Carnegie is best known for using his huge fortune to build libraries and cultural venues, and found the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in his early years he worked as a telegraph messenger.

At the aged of 13 Carnegie emigrated from Scotland to Pennsylvania with his family, securing a job two years later as a telegraph messenger boy at the Ohio Telegraph Company. Carnegie was quickly promoted to telegraph operator, but left aged 18 to work at the Pennsylvania Rail Road Company. By the time he was 20 Carnegie was investing in railway companies and learning about how they were managed; he was later to become rich through investments in the oil and steel industries.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries telegraphy was an important – and the fastest – means of communication, and Post Office telegraphists were vital to wartime communications. Last Post: Remembering the First World War examines the impact of telegraphy on the war, and includes rarely-seen images of frontline telecommunications from the BPMA and Imperial War Museum’s collections.

Mobile telegraph machine. (POST 56/6)

Mobile telegraph machine. (POST 56/6)

Visit our website to see the tour dates for Last Post: Remembering the First World War.

Andrew Carnegie’s life was commemorated on a United States postage stamp in 1960 – see it on Flickr.

Remembering the First World War in Hampshire

From today until Friday 27th September 2013 our exhibition Last Post: Remembering the First World War will be on display at the Museum of Army Flying, Hampshire.

Last Post explores the effect of the events of 1914-18 on the Post Office and its people and the contribution of postal communications to the war effort.

The First World War was a major turning point in the history of the Post Office. Many of the services that were reduced because of the war were never the same again. The volume of mail increased dramatically between 1914 and 1918, rising from 700,000 items in October 1914 to 13 million at its height.

Men sorting bags of parcels. (POST 56/6)

Men sorting bags of parcels. (POST 56/6)

The Post Office actively encouraged their staff to join the war effort. Over 75,000 men left their jobs to fight in the First World War. Of these, 12,000 joined the Post Office’s own battalion, the Post Office Rifles.

The Post Office Rifles on parade. (POST 56/6)

The Post Office Rifles on parade. (POST 56/6)

Postal communications played a vital role in the war effort. The Post Office set up telecommunications between Headquarters and the front line. It also ran an internal army postal system. During battle telegraphs and telephones were the main means of communication between the front line and Headquarters. Over 11,000 Post Office engineers made this possible throughout the war, using the skills they had acquired as civilians.

Mobile telegraph machine. (POST 56/6)

Mobile telegraph machine. (POST 56/6)

Many soldiers had relatives and friends fighting in other units. From December 1914, the Post Office ran a postal service that carried mail between units. Writing and receiving letters and parcels were a vital part of sustaining morale and overcoming the boredom, which was a feature of trench life.

Mail being sorted at a Field Post Office. (POST 56/6)

Mail being sorted at a Field Post Office. (POST 56/6)

There is a charge for admission to the Museum of Army Flying, with entry to Last Post included in the admission price. For more information on opening times and prices please see the Museum’s website: www.armyflying.com.

Last Post on Tour

Last Post at the Museum of Army Flying is the first stop on its tour, as we move towards the commemoration of the centenary of the beginning of the First World War in 2014. Our twin exhibition version of Last Post is to be exhibited at Aysgarth Railway station heritage site, North Yorkshire, for the weekend of 4th to 8th May 2013. On leaving the Museum of Army Flying in September 2013, Last Post is then being exhibited for the month of October at the Guildhall Library, London. Also in October 2013 its twin exhibition version will be at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire.

From Spring 2014 our flagship Last Post exhibition will be on display for a year at Coalbrookdale Museum, part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust site, accompanied by loans from other museums and organisations. Last Post is also being exhibited at Mansfield Museum from April to June 2013, Guildford Museum from June to September 2014 and finally Brading Roman Villa on the Isle of Wight from September to December 2014.

– Dominique Gardner, Exhibitions Officer

If you would like to share your feedback on Last Post or for more information on any of the exhibition dates, please contact the BPMA Exhibitions Officer on dominique.gardner@postalheritage.org.uk.

View our online version of Last Post: Remembering the First World War on our website.

Welcome to 2013

This year will be an exciting year at The British Postal Museum & Archive. While many staff are working hard to develop our new museum and archive others are continuing to organise events and exhibitions.


The first of our talks takes place next month and features Chris West, author of First Class: A history of Britain in 36 postage stamps. In his talk Chris will discuss the book and go in depth on some of the stories. Last year Chris wrote a blog for us about how he came to write his book, and you can buy a copy from our online shop or purchase one at the event.

In March Oliver Carter-Wakefield of Kings College London will speak on Illness and Absence in the Victorian Post Office. Consumption, necrosis and mental derangement were just some of the reasons Victorian postmen called in sick – and they weren’t always skiving!

Postal Mischief with David Bramwell.

Postal Mischief with David Bramwell.

In April David Bramwell will present a slide-show talk on how the postal system was used for the purposes of mischief making, and in June BPMA Curator Emma Harper will explore a less weird but just as wonderful use of the Royal Mail when she explores the culture of letter writing in 19th and 20th Centuries.

Tickets for all our talks are only £3.00 (or £2.50 concession) and can be booked online.


Our ever popular tours will be held throughout 2013. Bookings are now open for three tours of the Royal Mail Archive and six tours of our Museum Collection. These guided tours are led by our archivists and curators, who will give you a rare behind the scenes look at our collections storage facilities and an insight in to what they care for. Book now for these tours as they sell out quickly!

Walking tours of postal London run once a month and are operated by our partners Cityguides. Tours start at Farringdon Station and end at Bank, taking you in to the City of London which was once the heartland of the British Post Office. There is no need to book for these tours – just turn up on the day. See our website for details.

See the sights of postal London on our walking tours.

See the sights of postal London on our walking tours.

Special Events

The Museum Store, where we are house our full of collection of pillar boxes and vehicles, will play host to two special events this year. The first, Pillar Box Perfection, taking place on 6 April, will offer a range of activities for all ages based around the iconic pillar box. The second, Museums at Night at the Museum Store, is part of an initiative taking place in May in which museums stay open in the evening. We’ll tell you more about this event nearer to the time. Both of these special events are free of charge.


Visitors to the Royal Mail Archive in London can still see our Diamond Jubilee display of stamps from the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. We also have a permanent exhibition, The Museum of the Post Office in the Community, at Blists Hill Victorian Town in Shorpshire. The Museum is located above a recreated Victorian post office – a fascinating place to visit in itself – and is free to visit as part of your entry to Blists Hill.

Part of our much-loved collection of General Post Office posters from the 1930s-1960s will go on display at the Great Western Hospital, Swindon in March. This is part of the Paintings in Hospitals scheme, and the public may visit the exhibition in the Hospital’s designated display area during their opening hours.

Please pack parcels very carefully, poster by Tom Eckersley - this will be on display as part of Designs on Delivery.

Please pack parcels very carefully, poster by Tom Eckersley – this will be on display as part of Designs on Delivery.

Also on tour is our exhibition Last Post: Remembering the First World War, which can be seen at the Museum of Army Flying, Hampshire from March and at Aysgarth Station Heritage Site, North Yorkshire in May. The exhibition looks at the role of the Post Office during the Great War.

Visit our website for full details of our programme of events and exhibitions.