Tag Archives: online exhibition

Our new website launches

Our new website is now live at www.postalheritage.org.uk. The new website, designed by Mind Unit, boasts a new, more attractive design, and improved presentation of text and images. Content from the old website has been revised, and there are a number of new webpages to discover.

Image Galleries

Many pages on the new website include galleries which offer large display of images. Look out for pages which have square images at the bottom.

Click on any square image to see that image pop-out and appear in full.

Scrolling through image galleries is easy. Move your mouse over the image to reveal the PREV and NEXT buttons. Click these buttons to see the previous or next image in the gallery.

The Collections & Catalogue section of the website boasts a number of pages featuring image galleries. Philatelists and postal historians can view unique stamp artwork and postal markings from our collection in the Stamps & Philately section.

Many of our Online Exhibitions (find these in the Exhibitions & Events section of the website) make use of image galleries too. The Designs on Delivery online exhibition displays a number of GPO posters from 1930-1960 in this way.

British Postal History

A number of articles about aspects of our collection are available in the British Postal History section (under the History & Learning heading). Written by our archivists, curators, cataloguers and expert volunteers, these articles cover topics as diverse as Stamp Design, Internal Postage & Parcel Rates, The Great Train Robbery and Uniforms.

The Uniforms article includes a separate image gallery displaying a variety of illustrations, photographs, coats and hats from our collection.

Online Catalogue

As before, you can still search our Catalogue online. With over 95,000 records available there’s bound to be something of interest. Click the Online Catalogue button on the Collections & Catalogue page to start searching.

The Collections & Catalogue section also allows you to browse a number of topic areas and view selected examples from our collections.

Share the Website

Want to share something you’ve seen on the new BPMA website? Click on the “Forward To A Friend” button (in the menu on the right) to e-mail the page to a contact, or share the page with friends on Facebook, Twitter or Buzz using the buttons at the bottom of the page.

Future Development

Web technology changes rapidly – and your expectations do too! We’d like to hear your thoughts on how we can make the BPMA website even better.

At the bottom of each page on our website you will find a link to our Site Feedback Form. This easy-to-use form allows you to send your comments to us at any time.

Finally, we’d like to thank those of you who participated in our user testing programme. We received some extremely helpful feedback which will guide the website’s future development.

Designs on Delivery launch

On Tuesday night we held a launch party for our exhibition Designs on Delivery, now open in the Well Gallery, London College of Communication.

Designs on Delivery exhibition

Designs on Delivery: GPO Posters 1930 to 1960

Posters on display as part of Designs on Delivery

Posters on display

Guests mingle at the launch

Guests mingle at the launch

Chairman of the BPMA Trustees Professor Brian Goodey opens the exhibition

Chairman of the BPMA Trustees Professor Brian Goodey opens the exhibition

Dr Paul Rennie, Head of Context in the School of Graphic Designs at Central St Martins, speaks

Dr Paul Rennie, Head of Context in the School of Graphic Designs at Central St Martins, speaks

To find out more about Designs on Delivery see our online exhibition.

Contemporary Collecting Partnership Project Web Exhibition

On Monday 29th June 2009 a new online exhibition on the BPMA website was launched which was created as part of the Contemporary Collecting Partnership Project, funded by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and managed by the Museum of London. This project began in May 2008 and funded three museums, including the BPMA to “collect material reflecting the experience of newly and recently arrived culturally diverse people belonging to community groups, associations or similar organisations, and to develop sustainable partnerships with them.”

Members of the Mount Pleasant Hindu Association celebrate Diwali

Members of the Mount Pleasant Hindu Association celebrate Diwali

For this project, the BPMA worked with Royal Mail staff that had migrated to London, in particular with members of the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim Associations in Mount Pleasant Mail Centre. The reason for this choice was the wide diversity that exists within Mount Pleasant Mail Centre, only 34% of workers are White British and many different cultural and religious groups are active within the 24-hour workplace. The other two museums involved were Brent Museum who worked with Polish and Brazilian local communities, and Cuming Museum who worked with Gypsy Roma Travellers in the area.

BPMA staff attended four religious festivals organised by these associations in Mount Pleasant (Diwali, Guru Nanak’s Birthday, Vaisakhi and Eid) to collect oral recordings, photographs and objects. The next stage of the project was to use this material to create an online exhibition with help from participants from these groups, giving information on the associations, the festivals they celebrate and the stories of the people within these associations. A facilitator experienced in working with community groups was appointed on a freelance basis to lead sessions with members of the associations to create this web exhibition.

Guru Nanaks Birthday at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre

Guru Nanak's Birthday at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre

Eight sessions were held in Mount Pleasant Learning Centre with fourteen volunteers from the associations, and much of the text and images in the exhibition was created and uploaded by these people. Many of the participants gained new computer skills from being involved in these sessions. Audio clips from interviews with members of the associations have also been added to the web exhibition and there is also the chance for other staff to add their own stories of migrating to London and working for Royal Mail.

Celebrating Eid at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre

Celebrating Eid at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre

This project has been a great opportunity for the BPMA to diversify its collections by collecting material reflecting groups not previously represented. The collection now better represents the diversity of Mount Pleasant and the different religious groups that exist within it. It has also given us the opportunity to build up stronger relationships with staff in Mount Pleasant that are sustainable into the future and to form new partnerships with other museums. 

The exhibition can be viewed on our website so please have a look at all the hard work done by members of these associations or add your own stories of migrating to London or working for Royal Mail.

The Travelling Post Office

Travelling Post Offices (or TPOs) were railway carriages specially adapted for Post Office workers to sort mail in whilst it was being carried to its destination. They were introduced in 1838, a mere eight years after the first public railway (which ran between Liverpool to Manchester) was opened and proved to be a faster and more efficient method of delivering mail than Mail Coaches.

The layout of TPOs evolved very early on, driven by the unique nature of the work involved. The sorting frames were normally on the right looking towards the engine with a well table (sunken recess to hold mail) below for emptying mailbags into. Opposite this were metal pegs with destination bag labels attached in readiness to hang mail bags for sorted mail.

Early TPOs were quite primitive in their facilities with oil lighting, low, flat roofs and no heating or toilets! In the 1860s, gradual improvements were made as ventilators and better lights were installed and arched roofs introduced along with floor matting, padding and seats.

The TPO service ran until early 2004. It had been in a gradual decline since World War 2, with Dr Beeching’s 1963 report on the railways having a particular impact on the service. Transport technology was changing too, with it becoming more economical to move mail by road or air. Problems with service level agreements and concern for the health and safety of staff were the final nails in the coffin.

In 1999 the BPMA purchased a TPO dating from 1908, which was restored at the London & North West Railway (LNWR) workshop at Crewe. It is on display at The Crewe Heritage Centre, which is open on weekends and bank holidays from Easter to the last weekend in September.

The BPMAs TPO: before restoration.

The BPMA's TPO: before restoration.

The BPMAs TPO: after restoration

The BPMA's TPO: after restoration

For more information on TPOs please see our Online Exhibition The Travelling Post Office.