Another Hidden London Oddity Is Exposed To The Light
It seems for each part of hidden London we lose a new one is exposed. First New Scotland Yard’s Crime Museum was finally unveiled (I attended a terrific police lecture there this week) and now the mysterious Mount Pleasant train will be seen by Londoners.
The Mail Line opened in 1927 and was the first driverless electric railway in the world. Trains ran every 5 minutes at peak times along a 22 mile network, moving post from King’s Cross to Paddington, and between other sorting offices.
It closed in 2003 because most of the overland sorting offices had been sold off. But now it is to be opened to the public, who can ride a short section of the line between the museum and the east and westbound platforms deep under the giant Mount Pleasant sorting office, once one of the largest in the world, while audiovisual displays explain its history.
Under the title of the Postal Museum it will include material from half a century of mail, from 1516, when Henry VIII established the job of Master of the Posts, and will feature the earliest pillar box as well as sheets of priceless Penny Black stamps.
In what sounds like the quirkiest part, there’ll be a section on the Post Office cats. They once had their own wage slips and pension schemes, and had been officially employed after a complaint in 1868 that the headquarters was overrun with mice. Tibs was the most famous PO mouser.