We’ve already told you that in 2017, the Postal Museum will reopen the dormant Mail Rail. But now, curious Londoners, it’s been announced that those who sponsor a Mail Railway sleeper will get exclusive access to the once hidden underground tracks. And by ‘sleeper’, we don’t mean someone who gets paid to take a kip 70ft below the ground. (Although, that’s something we’d be extremely interested in getting involved in, should the opportunity arise). We mean the sleeper carriage… (See our full guide to museums in London.)
Owl Post, Platform 9 ¾, and Howlers-magical symbols of communication and travel in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. It’s no stretch of the imagination to see how these elements, reborn from the mundane to the fantastic through Rowling’s gripping creativity, reflect the rich and venerated history of Britain’s Post Office.
Today, social media is the titan of idea sharing. However, respect must still be given to its ancestral origins, the humble letter, made of more than just ink and paper. Throughout time, its scrawled forms of correspondence have been hefted, locomoted, ferried, and flown to the far reaches of the globe. To facilitate the transportation of its citizens’ mail across the city, London’s twentieth century Post Office constructed the world’s first electrically powered subterranean rail service. Originally entitled the Post Office Underground Rail, it later became known as Mail Rail in the ‘80’s.
However, after its closure in 2003, the tracks ceased to clatter with precious cargo. In a move to rejuvenate this integral aspect of British culture, the Postal Museum is currently inviting eager members of the public to be part of a unique, once in a lifetime experience: to sponsor one of its 1600 sleepers, and by doing so, participate in the rebirth of what was once Britain’s major vein of communication.
Whether as a gift to someone special, or a personal treat, the £250 sponsorship involves more than venturing 70 feet below London. It includes the opportunity to explore a selection of the ensconced railway before its official inauguration. Contributors will experience the haunting corridors via a ‘Walk the Rails’ tour that will lead them to their sleeper, and two complimentary tickets on a ride on the actual Mail Rail itself. Lastly, they’ll also receive a certificate commemorating their Mail Rail Sleeper Sponsorship, along with exclusive Mail Rail postcards.
This appeal to rail fan enthusiasts not only aims to ignite a sense of adventure for London’s past, but also serves to imbibe the museum with breath of new life. For more information on becoming a sponsor, and keeping updated on the Postal Museum’s 2017 opening, visit sponsorasleeper.org.