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. We are very pleased to open the stores for a handful of fortunate visitors in 2019 and 2020.

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

Because it is a stored collection with little in the way of interpretation, two museum curators, myself and Joanna, will personally lead visitors around the store, drawing out our favourites from the collection.

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, visitors will also see a remarkable Victorian survivor 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.

Cancel a letter and hug a pillar box

Visitors will be shown how to operate an ancient hand-cranked Stamp Cancelling Machine and be given the opportunity to get those biceps working and cancel a few letters.

Beyond the unexpected, you will be astounded by the variety in British post boxes. No-one should leave the store without knowing how to tell the difference between the three main types.

Warning! Get ready to hug a pillar box! After a visit to our store, you will never again look at a pillar box with the same eyes. Book your spot now before it’s too late.

– Julian Stray, Senior Curator