Riding the underground Mail Rail in London

Two postal adventures were experienced by us last week, the new Postal Museum in London, and its associated Mail Rail newly opened to the general public having been closed for many years.

The underground Mail Rail was in use from the early 1920’s to its closure in 2003 to carry mail and parcels between mail sorting offices and mainline railway stations, being quicker to transport than by road.

Unknown by almost everyone, there are 6½ miles Mail Rail tunnels. A small part of the tunnel system, involving a circular stretch of track from the Mount Pleasant sorting office, is now open for the public to ride on. When in use the electric trains transporting the mail were unmanned, apart from when maintenance was required.

Riding the Mail Rail, and seeing its museum exhibits, is an engaging visitor attraction, and is fun. Recommended by us.

Using a pace stick requires much practice

At the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Heritage Day we enjoy the Colour Sergeants demonstrating marching with a pace stick. This year there was no pace sticking demonstration, much to our disappointment.

According to the diggerhistory website, a pace stick is,

The Regimental Sergeant Major of a Unit carries a ‘Pace Stick”, which originated in the Artillery as a “Gunner’s Stick” and was used to measure the distance between guns.

It was soon adapted to measure the length of the pace taken by soldiers to get them all pacing the same. The Pace Stick is actually two pieces of timber, hinged at the top and able to be set to a particular distance, something like the compass set you used at school.

Our loss was assuaged by friendly Colour Sergeant P Johnson of the Lancashire Regiment. Jany stopped by a couple of Sergeants to enquire about the pace sticking demonstration, for me to return to see her practicing with a pace stick. I too tried to use one, only to find that it’s not as easy that at first it would seem. Adeptness with your wrist is essential to use one

Should you like to know more, and see a pace stick demo at RMA Sandhurst, then look at my article HERE, when all is revealed. Here are a few photos of our efforts.

Photo slideshow of the 2018 RMA Sandhurst Heritage Day

An overcast day for the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Heritage Open Day. At least it didn’t rain. Many thousands of visitors enjoyed being in the company of the Army, it’s soldiers, cadets, bandsmen, and all things military.

The standout event of the day was the arrival of the parachutists of the REME Thunder Bolts Display Team. Amazing pinpoint landing accuracy, marvelled at by huge crowds around the landing arena, including us. So, so difficult to photograph them.

We admired the precision marching of the Band of the Parachute regiment from a nice front row seat. We wandered around Old College, including the impressive Conference Room and Indian Army Memorial Room.

We missed not being able to have a cream tea this year, and the queue for the Gurkha curry was a touch too long, so we watched the bands in the main arena. As I took lots of photos, I thought it best to present them as a slide show.

We also missed there being no pace sticking by the RSM’s and Colour Sergeants this year, but it was more than made up by …. oh, well, that’s the subject of the next article.

The bangs came from the 2nd Queen’s Royal Regiment of Foot re-enactment group. Much noise and smoke enjoyed by all.

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One week to go till Camberley International Festival

Surrey Heath Borough Council announce,

In one week, Camberley will launching the third Camberley International Festival! The town will come alive with music, comedy, films, literature and drama.

The opening party will take place at The Carpenters Arms on Park Street. Featuring live music from Kodiak Island and The Mysteries from 7:30pm, it’s free to attend.

There’s free comedy at The Cabin on the London Road, Film and Animation Masterclasses and competition at Camberley Theatre along with literature events at The Cabin and Theatre. The BAFTA Award winning actress and C.I.F. patron, Juliet Aubrey will be presenting the prizes to the winners of the film and animation competition.

The Camberley Carnival takes place on the last day of the festival, Saturday 23rd June. The afternoon of family entertainment taking place at the London Road Recreation Ground (behind The Arena) following the colourful parade through town includes an Indian Circus, Bhangra and Bollywood dance workshops, an acoustic tent, a bar run from a converted horse box and loads more!

Along with pop up events taking place across the four day celebration, the C.I.F. is a wonderful reason to celebrate Camberley!

Multi BBC Folk Award winners, The Unthanks has now sold out on Friday 22nd June at Camberley Theatre, but there are still tickets available for the impressionist and Radio 4 favourite, Jon Culshaw there on Saturday 23rd June. The full programme of events can be found here: https://camberley-international-festival.com/full-programme-of-events/

Enjoying two London postal adventures

Two postal adventures enjoyed by us yesterday. Both were in London, the new Postal Museum and the Mail Rail.

Riding on the Mail Rail was the main attraction of our London visit with a group from the Camberley and District Probus Club. Our visit included a guide from the Museum of London, who was helpful in describing the parts of London with a strong postal heritage. Our guide directed us to a replica Penfold post pillar box located on the west side of St Martin’s Le Grand at the junction with Angel Street in the City [See photo on right]. The green box was unveiled by HRH The Prince of Wales and commemorates 500 years since the first Master of Posts in 1516.

Here are my photos of the Postal Museum – should note that it has an excellent cafe, which is a must for museums, don’t you think.

The Rail Rail was fun. I’m compiling my video clips of our mail rail ride and associated history, which I’ll post later. Unfortunately, combining video clips into a meaningful story takes longer than I wished it would. Never mind that, here are a few images of the mail rail.

Mark Williams’ On The Rails Episode 10: Diesel Generation

Continuing with my Friday episodes from Mark Williams Discovery TV channel programme, On The Rails, where he looks at the 200 years of Railways.

In episode 10 Mark examines the development of diesel-electric systems in 1953, in which he drives a Class 31 diesel-electric with a cab that has a hot plate, windshield wipers and an ashtray.

This is the last of the ten of Mark Williams On The Rails videos. You can review them all HERE.

The register of the UK’s national historic ships

As we’re a maritime nation it’s surely right that we value our maritime heritage. We all know of some of our historic ships,  HMS Victory, Cutty Sark, HMS Belfast, and the SS Great Britain.

National Historic Ships UK is the organisation that oversees our maritime heritage. It’s a government funded, independent organisation that gives objective advice to UK governments, local authorities, funding bodies, and the historic ships sector on all matters relating to historic vessels in the UK.

Part of National Historic Ships UK is the National Register of Historic Vessels, which is a database of over 1300 significant vessels. Within the database is a list of some 200 or more vessels on the National Historic Fleet.

The prompt for this short article was our visit, earlier this year, to the Isle of Grain in the Thames estuary, and the surrounding area. We stopped for lunch at the excellent Ship and Trades in Chatham Maritime, and afterwards saw the partially restored Medway Queen paddle steamer moored at Gillingham Quay. She’s in the National Historic Fleet.