An interactive museum that explores the history of the postal system. The highlight is a trip on the Mail Rail, a small train that until as recent as 2003, used to transport mail under the streets of London. This train has now become part of The Postal Museum and has been converted to carry passengers. There is also an EXCELLENT imaginary play village called ‘Sorted’
Based in Central London, about a 10-15 minute walk from either Farringdon, Russell Square, Chancery Lane or King’s Cross station.
£44 for a family of four
Situated near Mount Pleasant (the largest sorting room in Britain) the Postal Museum is split into two parts on opposite sides of the road. One part contains the Mail Rail, a small museum and Sorted and the other contains the cafe and an exhibition. Both parts have interactive areas for children.
The main draw to the Postal Museum is to take a trip on the Mail Rail. The dinky train takes you on a 15 minute narrated journey underground complete with a couple of surprises along the way. I don’t want to spoil it all but expect to see movies projected onto the rounded walls that show you how the rail sorting facilities worked. Perfect journey length, kids loved it and us grown-ups learned about a part of London that we never knew existed.
We were surprised as to how engrossed the kids were in the Mail Rail side of the museum. There were plenty of interactive displays for younger kids with lots of levers to pull and push. They pretended to be train drivers, got into fancy dress and helped in the train control centre. There was also a brilliant travelling post office, whereby the floor starts shaking as soon you correctly start sorting the mail. You can even compete against someone else. We must have done this about 10 times before they got bored. It was a great way to get them to recognise words.
The exhibition on the other side of the road also contained some displays for kids, including an area where you could design your own stamp. But by the time we got here the kids were in that post-lunch slump and so we only spent about 15 minutes here before heading back for the school run.
The best bit for the kids (and admittedly, perhaps for the adults too) was ‘Sorted’. An excellent imaginary play village and post office which kept us all occupied. Who said it was just for kids? The village has a post office, a sorting room complete with a moving conveyor belt, barcode reader, mail trolleys, a stamp maker and each house in the make-believe village has a letterbox. Each session was 45 minutes but we could have spent hours in here.
They seem to have a bit of a blip on their website where it appears that all 45 minutes ‘Sorted’ sessions between school hours were fully booked but as it turned out they weren’t. So phone ahead. If you buy a ticket for the Museum then the ‘Sorted’ session price is reduced from £5 to £1.50.
We were so impressed by this space that we vowed to come back to do this alone. For the kids, obviously.
I really, really like food and I feel slightly miffed when adults aren’t catered for as well the children. In this case, I was not disappointed. In fact, I was positively elated.
There is a fab cafe here called Counter Cafe which claims to have award-winning coffee. I couldn’t comment on the coffee as unusually for me I didn’t have one but my Roasted Aubergine and sun-dried tomato focaccia was delicious. I know that previous sentence makes me sound like a right ponce, but I am prepared to be labelled a ‘ponce’ in order that you understand just how excellent the food offering was for a small museum cafe.
For the kids you can choose between a kids lunch box where you can select five items (sarnies, yoghurt, carrot battons, fruit, raisins, etc. ) for £4.95 or a hot meal. My daughter went for the Train Pasta which was a big hit because she is totally obsessed with my pasta. For the adults, there was a great range of mouthwatering sandwiches, soups, and salads.
This was an action-packed, fun packed day out for all. The kids were sound asleep on the way home which I think is always a good guide as to how much fun they had. The Postal Museum was one of those rare times where the grown-ups enjoyed it as much as the children. I highly recommend. Go, go, go!
- The train is pretty small and trundles underground deeper than a tube so if you are claustrophobic this is probably not for you.
- Due to the size of the train, you are asked to put all belongings into a locker which costs a £1 so make sure you have some change.
- The Postal Museum is completely accessible with a buggy although buggies are not allowed on the lower ground exhibition level and obviously not on the train. The is a buggy park on the ground floor.
- Book ahead to save time when you get there.
- Baby change facilities are available.
Ratings (out of 5)