London is full of amazing museums that are brilliant for kids. You could probably visit a new museum every weekend for a year and still not tick off all the galleries that London has to offer.
But one museum that you should make the effort to visit very soon is the Postal Museum.
Located opposite the enormous Royal Mail depot is the Postal Museum in Kings Cross that follows the history of the humble letter.
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The London Postal Museum
Although the Postal Museum opened in 2017, it remains one of London’s newest museums. The museum is divided into four sections; the Postal Museum Exhibition that traces the history of the postal service in the UK; Sorted!, a fantastic postal play space for kids; the Mail Rail, a subterranean railway that once whisked four million letters a day across London; and the Mail Rail Exhibition, which covers the history of the underground mail rail train system.
The Postal Museum Exhibition
The brilliant exhibition in the main museum charts the origins of the postal service and the history of the Royal Mail. It includes lots of quirky stories such as the cryptic Victorian valentine cards and how an escaped lioness once disrupted the mail service on Salisbury Plain.
On display are five-wheeled cycles invented to deliver letters faster, a Royal Mail stagecoach from the 1800s, post buses and a Royal Mail embossed Morris Minor.
Interactive displays invite kids of all ages to play and learn. My three had a great time designing their own stamp, dressing up as a Postwoman and Telegram Messenger Boy, and trying to decipher Morse code.
There’s even a great dress-up section where kids can reenact the famous lioness incident!
The exhibit is really well curated; I particularly liked the selection of posters and magazines from the 1950s and 60s and the section at the end where guests can write about memorable letters they’ve received.
There are activity booklets for kids to follow as well and the interactive exhibits are good for all age groups.
Sorted is a fantastic play space for kids aged 0-8 years old. Designed as a miniature town, children can dress up and pretend to work in the postal system.
They can work in the sorting office, deliver letters in wooden mail trolleys, pretend to drive vintage post vans, work in a post-office and more.
Small wooden houses double-up as post-boxes, complete with sound effects once their doors are open (cue lots of barking dogs and ringing doorbells!).
There are telephone boxes with whispering tubes for sending secret messages and a counter for creating and sending telegrams.
For little ones, there’s a designated baby soft play area, too.
What’s really cute about it all is the attention to detail such as the addresses that include “Kids Cross”, “Carnababy Street” and “Granny Square”. For non-Londoners, they’re all a great play on popular capital destinations (Kings Cross, Carnaby Street and Granary Square).
You can book Sorted! as a standalone session. If visiting at weekends or during school holidays it’s definitely worth booking in advance; tickets are sold for 45 minute sessions.
The Mail Rail
The underground train ride is the real highlight of the London Postal Museum.
From the 1920s until its closure in 2003, trains transported letters and parcels 6.5miles across London, from Paddington in the west to Whitechapel in the east, along underground tunnels. The train line linked six sorting offices with mainline railway stations and delivered four million letters every day! At its peak, the Mail Rail ran 22 hours a day and employed more than 220 staff.
Today, two new trains have been adapted from the original design and take visitors on a 15 minute trip, 21 metres underground. If you’re planning a visit to the museum, book your Mail Rail tickets in advance.
The Mail Rail Exhibition
There is a fascinating exhibition to accompany the ride on the Mail Rail that allows budding engineers and train drivers to see if they can keep the networking running.
In a city like London where there are brilliant museums for kids seemingly on every corner, the London Postal Museum still stands out. It’s fun, educational, interactive and just really, really interesting. Make sure you visit next time you’re in the capital!
For more ideas on great museums to visit with kids, take a look at this excellent post from Mummy Travels.
How to get to the London Postal Museum
Address: 15-20 Phoenix Place, London, WC1X 0DA
Closest Tube: Farringdon, Russell Square, King’s Cross St Pancras and Chancery Lane are all nearby.