By Marie-Claire McGlade
I recently visited the new Postal Museum in Bloomsbury with my three-year-old son. As he is a huge fan of Postman Pat and delightful Jolly Postman books by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, I knew this would be a lovely day out for him.
The museum is housed across a couple of adjacent sites. On arrival you can climb aboard a vintage postal van, a great photo opportunity.
We went straight to the Sorted! play area, which is really well designed and perfect for under 5s, with a mini post van, little post carts to push around, a sorting office and, of course, a post office with loads of parcels, letters, scales and stamping machines. There are plenty of outfits to dress up in and there is even a very exciting postal chute to slide down. You are allocated a time slot to make sure each child has the chance to try out all the activities. Single tickets for entry to Sorted! are also available if your little tot is a bit on the small side to explore the whole museum.
We then headed to the main museum, which covers the fascinating history of the Royal Mail from the era of coaches and horseback delivery right up to today’s modern service. There is a lovely Jolly Postman trail with letterbox flaps and postboxes to explore, make-your-own stamps and postcards, really colourful and ornate vintage postal uniforms for big and little people to try on and many interactive exhibits, including lots of old post vehicles. The old telephones, telegraph machines and collection of vintage Postman Pat toys were particular highlights for my little man.
On the occasion we visited we were unable to take a ride on the underground Mail Train. This really popular feature books up months in advance. We will definitely be back to take a ride!
There is a small café and snack bar along with a shop with an interesting range of postal-related gifts. Check out the upcoming programme of events over the Christmas break.
Located at 15-20 Phoenix Place, WC1X 0DA, the museum is open every day from 10am to 5pm, except the 24th to the 26th of December. General admission costs £7.25 per child (£11 with an added visit to Sorted!), and adult tickets cost £14.50; tickets exhibitions alone cost £11 adult and free for children; a child’s 45-minute session at Sorted! alone costs £5. For more, check out the Postal Museum website.