Tag Archives: outreach

Dear Amie: Inspiring formerly trafficked women through postal uniforms

During the past two years our Community Learning Officer, Hannah Clipson, has been developing our audiences in the run-up to opening The Postal Museum. Through engaging new groups we have been able to interpret our collection in new and exciting ways. We have created strong and sustainable bonds with formally under-represented groups who now see us and objects as relevant and of interest. In this post, Hannah shares what she has been up to with the Amies, a group of ten women who are survivors of trafficking.

Established in July 2014, delivered in collaboration with the October Gallery and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, we engaged with the Amies over a 12 week period. The 10 ladies were originally brought together by PAN Arts, a London-based arts company, and The Poppy Project. This summer we built upon this project, working with the Amies and partnering with the October Gallery, The Mary Ward Centre and The Calthorpe Project. However, this time, we looked at postal uniforms throughout the ages, and used them as inspiration to make our own textile items. Through a series of images, we’ll share what we have been up to.

We started off the project looking at the various bags that have been used by postal workers over the centuries. Inspired by the telegram messenger bags, we made our own versions to practice simple sewing skills.

Leather pouches made by the women, inspired by the telegram messenger bags

Leather pouches made by the women, inspired by the telegram messenger bags

We developed our sewing skills at the Mary Ward Centre through making a bag with a zip using sewing machines. This got the whole group ready to tackle making a skirt, inspired by the post women’s uniform during the First World War. To make the skirt, we explored images from the collection and experimented with patterns, and had a fabric printed containing our favourite images.

Nanda cuts her stamp designed material to make her bag

One of the women cuts her stamp designed material to make her bag

Mani making her bag on the sewing machine

One of the women making her bag on the sewing machine

Asia and Paulina look at images from our collection to inspire our skirt fabric

The group look at images from our collection to inspire our skirt fabric

Mani shows us her ideas for a pattern

One of the women shows us her ideas for a pattern

Nanda works on sewing her skirt

One of the women works on sewing her skirt

One of the fabrics we had digitally printed

One of the fabrics we had digitally printed

Being able to build upon this project and working with these women has been an absolute joy. Seeing the women grow in confidence and help each other to learn new skills (both textile and life skills) whilst using our collection as a platform has been hugely worthwhile and humbling. Partnering with the October Gallery and The Mary Ward Centre has also enabled us to learn new skills from peers; invaluable as we continue to move forward developing our audiences for The Postal Museum. Next steps include planning our next project with the women at The Postal Museum and developing our first community inspired exhibition at our archive in Freeling House. Watch this space!

-Hannah Clipson, Community Learning Officer

This project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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Penny Post 175 Anniversary Event in Kidderminster

Last weekend we were invited by the Kidderminster Heritage Opportunities Group to take part in a special event celebrating the 175 anniversary of the Penny Post. Kidderminster is the home town of Sir Rowland Hill, the man who led the campaign for universal penny postage. 

The event took place at the Town Hall in the heart of Kidderminster. There were free drop-in activities, exhibitions and films for people to enjoy. I went along with an actor from Big Wheel Theatre Company who brought the story of Rowland Hill to life.

A great time was had by all. I thought I’d share some photos of the day with you.

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Sir Rowland Hill poses in front of his statue

Sir Rowland meets a local retired postie.

Sir Rowland meets a local retired postie

Young visitors make their own Rowland Hill top hats with help from the lovely Natasha from Big Wheel.

Making Rowland Hill top hats helped by Natasha from Big Wheel

Dressing up as early Victorian letter carriers.

Dressing up as early Victorian letter carriers.

A finished Penny Postage inspired Top Hat.

A finished Penny Postage inspired Top Hat

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Me. Cranking the engine of a post van

If you’d like to find out more about Rowland Hill and Penny Postage –  our new learning resource Pop It In The Post tells the story of how the Penny Black stamp changed our world. The resource includes an interactive game and a film in which Rowland Hill explains his big idea.

-Sally Sculthorpe, Learning Officer

A trainee teacher shares his experience of being on placement with us

Hello, I’m Tommy, a postgraduate student at London South Bank University where I’m training to be a primary school teacher.

As part of this course, I recently spent a week on placement at the British Postal Museum and Archive. I worked closely with Sally, the Schools Learning Officer to learn how the BPMA use their archive and resources to deliver engaging and stimulating school sessions.

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Pupils select definitive stamps

One of the sessions I observed was “Stamp Champs” in a year 3 class at Claremont Primary School in Cricklewood, North London.

This was a fun session, where pupils were given the chance to dress up as postal workers from the past as they learnt about the history of the postal service.

The pupils also had the chance to investigate stamps from around the world by playing an interactive game using stamps from sixteen different countries.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the session was when the pupils were given the opportunity to begin their own stamp collection. Firstly, they learnt how to remove a used stamp that was attached to an envelope and they kept this as the first stamp in their collection.

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Students soak definitive stamps to detach them from envelopes.

The pupils then chose another five stamps each from around the world that Sally had brought along for them.

The classroom was buzzing as each pupil rifled through the numerous stamps to find which ones they wanted for their collection. Each pupil had their own reason for the stamps they chose – be it that it was from the country of their birth, a commemorative stamp from an event they recognised or even just a striking design – there was no doubt that they had all been gripped by “stamp fever” and were proud of the birth of their stamp collection.

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Pupils showcase their final selection of stamps.

As we left, the pupils thanked us and told us how much they enjoyed the session, with one boy saying that we were welcome to come back anytime!

“Stamp Champs” really was a fantastic session to observe and take part in, and I would have no hesitation in booking it for a class when I graduate later this year and begin teaching.

The school visits were a highlight of my time at BPMA, however, the opportunity to search the archives has also been fascinating. I was given an interesting, detailed tour of the archive and used my new found knowledge to develop ideas for a session about the role of the postal service during World War Two.

My time at BPMA has been thoroughly enjoyable and I have learnt a lot about  what the museum collection can offer for schools. Thank you to everyone at BPMA for having me!

We’re taking bookings for the summer term now. Find out how to book a free school workshop for your class.

Stamps in Schools – a free BPMA sponsored outreach service

Hello, I’m Sally, the new Schools Learning Officer. It’s my job to develop our formal learning programme for students of all ages. I’m currently trialing workshops for Primary schools in London. You can find out more about our plans, including how to book a free workshop for your school on our website.

Another part of my job is to support the BPMA sponsored Stamps in Schools outreach service. This is co-ordinated by retired teacher Erene Grieve, and provides free sessions to primary and secondary schools throughout the UK.

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A small selection of Erene’s stamp collection.

I recently accompanied Erene on her latest Stamps in Schools visit to Sherwood Primary school in Mitcham, Surrey. I thought I’d share some of the great photos from the afternoon, and tell you about what schools can expect from a session.

Erene began by telling a story about the sack of stamps she saw advertised in the newspaper and sent away for at the age of nine. The sack cost a few shillings and was full of hundreds of stamps. She showed the original sack, and explained this purchase sparked her lifelong interest in stamp collecting.

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Erene sharing her passion for stamps.

Erene used a colourful display of real stamps and other materials from our collection in an interactive presentation about the history of the postage stamp. This included an opportunity to see a Penny Black, a quiz to identify old and new commemorative and definitive stamps from all over the world and a competition to guess the most valuable stamps.

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Here’s me getting stuck into the stamp activities.

Students completed cross-curricular tasks on Stamp Activity cards that tested their new found stamp knowledge. Then, they were given their own small ‘sack’ of stamps from around the world and arranged them symmetrically on squared paper, just like a real stamp collector!

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A neatly arranged page of stamps.

Finally, the students chose some commemorative and definitive stamps to keep and start their own stamp collection.

Sherwood Primary school is lucky enough to have a growing Stamp Club. This visit, enthusiastically described by one student as ‘the best afternoon ever’ has no doubt increased the number of budding collectors.

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One of Sherwood Primary school’s stamp collectors.

More about Stamps in Schools

  • Each session lasts for about one hour, and can be delivered to a class, or as a school assembly.
  • It has cross-curricular links to a wide range of subjects including Literacy, Numeracy, Geography, Art and Design, or Citizenship.
  • Sessions can be tailored to link to class topics such as ‘The Victorians’ and ‘Communications’.
  • All materials such as stamps, postcards and activity sheets are provided free of charge.
  • Example activities include: writing postcard messages, calculating weights and postal charges, and designing a stamp.
  • Erene is happy to provide follow up support to help schools start their own Stamp Club.

We’re currently taking bookings for Stamps in Schools book via our website.