Have a nosey around our Museum Object Store in Essex on a behind the scenes tour.

Since The Postal Museum opened two years ago, there has been little opportunity for the public to visit the hidden, seldom seen collection that sits in our large object stores in Essex. Now, we’re opening our store for a virtual tour of some of larger and more unusual objects!

The Postal Museum’s off-site Large Object store at Debden

It is a large and diverse accumulation and it will be impossible to see everything but here are some of the highlights.

Explore the vehicles of the past

The vehicles alone span early horse-drawn, through television detector van, through delivery vans, to green painted Post Office Telephone vans and a ‘concept vehicle’. Our collection of electric vehicles used in delivery trials include an electric bicycle and trailer, electric scooter and a large electric trike, formerly named after one of the Witches of Pendle!

All those vehicles were used above ground, although there are also some remarkable Victorian survivors from below ground. Our Pneumatic Post railcar is one of only two survivors and bears the scars of being retrieved from its tunnel when rediscovered fifty years after it was abandoned.


This mode of transport was operating when Rowland Hill, the instigator of the Penny Black and Postal Reform, was bringing about a great change in the Post Office and social communication. Hidden in one corner of the store is his desk.

Sir Rowland Hill’s Desk, 19th century

As Secretary to the Post Office, Hill used this grand piece of furniture. For over 100 years, later Secretaries did the same until it was “retired” and came into our furniture collection.

Letter cancellation and pillar boxes

The store also homes every variety of British post box, and even cancellation machines; used for ‘cancelling’ a stamp on an envelope, to prove its value had now been used.

– Julian Stray, Senior Curator

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