July 23 2014 Latest news:
by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Friday, June 13, 2014
A bid to create an underground mail rail ride is on track after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded the scheme £4.5million.
The British Postal Museum & Archive’s (BPMA) plan to open up the rail line, which once carried four million letters a day across London, has now achieved 95 per cent of the funding needed for the £22m project at Mount Pleasant, Farringdon Road.
Construction is due to start later this year and finish in 2019, with a new museum charting almost 400 years of stories from the hub of British communications going alongside the rail ride.
HLF said the prospect of helping to regenerate a part of London “high on the list of social deprivation” was a factor in gaining the grant.
Adrian Steel, director of BPMA, said: “With this significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund we have taken another major step towards building a world-class, sustainable museum that will highlight the important story of our universally recognisable postal service.
“From the Napoleonic Wars to piracy, the invention of the first computer to the advent of instant communication, the postal service has played a vital role in both British and global history and in shaping the world as we know it today.
“We thank HLF for showing its support for this important project”.
The railway closed in 2003 after running under the capital for more than 75 years.
The tunnels, which run from Paddington to Whitechapel, were used to store arts and treasures during World War I and acted as the Vatican’s underground postal railway in the Hollywood film Hudson Hawk.
In its heyday, the world’s first unmanned underground railway had trains travelling at speeds of up to 35mph, but it is unlikely to reach double figures when it reopens to the public.
n For more details visit postalheritage.org.uk.