Over the summer holidays, I tried to make sure Elliot and I got out and about as much as possible and learn something different every now and then. Since London is only 40 minutes away on the train, we popped up there quite a few times.
One of those jaunts was to The Postal Museum because I’d heard people raving about it (thanks Instagram…) and genuinely wanted to explore the history of post, as it’s something I’ve never really known much about before. I know it sounds a bit dry but trust me, it was actually decent. They also had an exhibition called Mail Rail, which was about the tiny trains that carried post around London during the war, but I’d assumed Elliot wouldn’t be interested in that. Spoiler: I was wrong.
I thought I’d tell you all about the day as it was genuinely a really good day out.
Where is it? So, it’s right next to the massive postal depot in the middle of London. I’m no expert but according to Google Maps, it’s near Clerkenwell and Farringdon and St Pancras areas of London. But what we did was: get the train from Charing Cross to Russell Square and then walked from there, and it was about a 20 minute walk from there.
One good thing they’ve got on their website though was maps from the closest stations to the museum which is not only handy, but also interesting as they included interesting points that you could look out for on the way. For example, on our walk from Russell Square, we walked past J.M. Barrie’s house AND the road where Charles Dickens lived when he was in London. (Sorry for the essay, I found this really exciting and thought it was a brilliant touch to get children a bit more excited about walking to the museum, because walking anywhere with a child is like wading through mud.)
How much is it? Right, I won’t lie – it was expensive. For me to go around the Museum and on Mail Rail was £17.05, and for Elliot to go around the Museum, Mail Rail and in the under-5’s play area Sorted! was £11.95. If I had four kids I’d probably give it a miss but the fact it was just me and Elliot meant I could write it off as a special treat.
What’s there then? So you’ve got the exhibitions, which is all about the history of the postal service – something I had NO idea about. I found it really interesting learning about the postal service during the wars, and the lengths the postal workers went to to make sure the mail was delivered. There are trails for children to do as they go round, and Elliot wasn’t really feeling doing every activity but he enjoyed the different uniforms and post boxes – and finding the Jolly Postman in all his hiding places.
There’s also Mail Rail, which is the old tunnels and tiny trains that used to carry the post around London before they had vans and that which was very interesting albeit a tiny bit small. Elliot LOVED this and really enjoyed going through the tunnels. A word of warning though – you do have to leave your bag in a cupboard at the beginning as they won’t fit on the train (told you it was small!) and I also whacked my head on the door as I got in so I was a bit grumbly.
They also have a play area for under-5’s which is absolutely cracking. It includes a play sorting office where your children can dress up in little Royal Mail hi-viz’s and sort the post just with added slides. You can buy a ticket just for the play area and that’s £5 for an hour and I’d definitely recommend that if you’re in the area and have a younger child who wouldn’t be as interested in the exhibitions.
Marks out of ten? I think I’d give it a solid 7 because the Mail Rail is cool, and there were good points for me and Elliot between the play area and the exhibitions. It does lose marks for the price, as I’m so used to going to free museums or paying for a ticket and it then lasting a year, as we’ve done recently with the Chatham Dockyard.
I’d recommend if your child is a little bit older, as if they’re under 3 they probably won’t enjoy the exhibitions as much BUT if you’re in the Russell Square area with a littlun, you could always head to the play area for an hour and then go to Coram’s Fields which is just around the corner. We also like it there – loads of play equipment, a paddling pool and bunny rabbits. Win, win win.