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.

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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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.

The Wheatsheaf pub in Heatherside, Camberley gains Grade II lising

The BBC reports that,

Five English pubs built after the Second World War have been given Grade II listed status by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

One of the five is The Wheatsheaf in Heatherside in Camberley. In the pub’s website they say it “was designed by a church architect, and as a result looks a lot like a church itself!”. It certainly looks like it too.

The recognition of the design of the pub and its architectural value by the government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport, helps me in my project to get places in Lightwater and elsewhere in the Borough added to the Surrey Heath Borough Council’s Local Heritage Assets.

The Wheatsheaf isn’t on the Counci’ls list.

Hat Tip: The Wheatsheaf website for the image.

A new home for Surrey Heath Museum

Surrey Heath Borough Council has announced a new home for its museum

Surrey Heath Museum is to become part of a new ‘Heritage Hub’ in the centre of Camberley, due to open in June. 

The Museum will join with Surrey Heath Museum Action Group and Surrey Heath Archaeology Trust to create the hub in the Heritage Gallery of The Square shopping centre.  

The museum space, on the ground floor, will involve a ‘mini museum’ display, recreations of a WWI and WWII home, and include a shop and research area. 

There will also be a temporary exhibition area – planned exhibitions include ‘What Lies Beneath’ (June to September), followed by ‘The Battles of the First World War’ (October to December).  

The existing Heritage Gallery will move to the upper floor, with displays for local groups and societies.  
Heritage staff will be frequently present and available at the new hub.   

The existing Heritage Gallery unit is currently closed for this transformation to take place, and will reopen on Saturday 30 June. 
This will coincide with Camfest, the community arts and crafts festival organised by the Camberley Society which runs from 29 June to 1 July.  

Surrey Heath Heritage Services are holding a public meeting where they invite members of the public to come along and find out more about plans for the refreshed Heritage Service on Thursday 24 May at Camberley Theatre at 7pm. All welcome! 

News of Surrey Heath Museum’s involvement in the ‘Heritage Hub’ follows the decision taken by the Council’s Executive earlier this year to adopt changes proposed for Surrey Heath Heritage Services.   

This followed a consultation about the future of Surrey Heath Museum and Heritage Services, which ran for several months at the end of last year. 
Feedback included the view that the previous museum site at Surrey Heath House on Knoll Road, Camberley was not in the right location. 

This site was subsequently closed to the public in mid-April, with plans for the future development of the service to include more temporary exhibitions and events at different locations around the Borough – bringing heritage into the heart of our community, and helping reach new and wider audiences across Surrey Heath and beyond.    

These include plans for a Heritage Services display in the Main Square of The Square during the summer, and a Surrey Heath Museum ‘showcase area’ in Camberley Library from July. 
As a result of these changes, research enquiries will be put on hold until June 2018. 

The museum’s popular events programme will continue, including toddler/children’s holiday sessions, to be held in the Heritage Hub, and heritage walks. The popular Reminiscence and Education Programme also goes from strength to strength. 
More info: www.surreyheath.gov.uk/museum