This article is written in partnership with the Postal Museum.
The Postal Museum in Clerkenwell opened in the summer of 2017 and has already established itself as one of the brightest museums in London. In fact, it was one of the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018 finalists. Here are just some of the reasons:
1. A unique underground adventure
The Postal Museum's star attraction is the Mail Rail subterranean railway. Visitors can board a tube train like no other, and take a ride through tunnels once used to transport mail and parcels across the capital. The experience is brought to life with innovative light shows, commentary and sound effects. There really is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
2. A treasure trove of a museum
The Postal Museum Exhibition holds many jaw-dropping artefacts from the history of the postal service. See a mail coach from the 1800, a curious five-wheeled mail delivery bicycle, and the original sculpture used as a model for the Queen's head on stamps (perhaps the most reproduced image on Earth). It's also the only place in the world you can see full a sheet of Penny Black stamps (so rare, it's effectively priceless). Every corner holds a new surprise.
3. One of the best children's playspaces in town
Sorted! is a marvellous playspace designed for children aged eight and under. Kids can deliver mail around a model town, load up the van with fresh parcels, weigh and stamp the mail in a fun-sized post office, or slide down the chute in the soft-play sorting office. We've visited on four occasions and seen our toddler get stuck in to different activities every time. The space can even be booked for children's parties.
4. Creative activities
Far from being simply a treasury of objects, the Postal Museum is also a place where stories comes to life through a creative events programme. Look out for storytelling sessions, artist-led workshops, craft sessions and historical characters brought to life by actors. The action even heads out of the museum with postal-themed tours of London led by an accredited guide.
5. Interactive fun
Both the Mail Rail and Postal Museum exhibitions are enlivened with hands-on exhibits. Can you sort the post while standing inside a shaking, rumbling travelling post office? Can you fend off highwaymen and even a lion (it did happen) while driving a mail coach? If that all seems a bit too adventurous, then have fun with the adults dressing-up box, or play with the museum's pneumatic mail delivery tubes.
6. A place to eat and shop
Take time out to visit the Counter Cafe, which serves a selection of hot and cold food and drinks, and comes with free wifi and outdoor seating. Both the Postal Museum Exhibition and Mail Rail have their own shops. These hold something for everyone — from children's toys to specialist books for the mail obsessive.
7. Intriguing exhibitions
The Postal Museum also contains space for temporary exhibitions. The current one, Voices from the Deep, displays letters rescued from the bed of the Atlantic Ocean, where they had lain unread for three quarters of a century. You've only got until January to see it.
8. Welcoming, family-friendly and accessible
From the cheerful front-of-house staff to a jam-packed programme of kids' school holiday activities including storytelling, arts and crafts, the Postal Museum will ensure you have a memorable day out. The museum is geared up for everyone, with baby-changing facilities, accessible and gender-neutral toilets, buggy parking and lockers.
All areas are wheelchair friendly, with the exception of the Mail Rail ride — but there is an accessible Mail Rail show for those who can't board the train itself — and all disabled visitors can claim a companion ticket. What's more, the gallery spaces can currently be accessed for free by anyone with a National Art Pass.
Visit the Postal Museum at 15-20 Phoenix Place, WC1X 0DA. Open every day 10am-5pm.