On the Saturday after Christmas twenty Poly Ramblers were booked in for a ride on Mail Rail, the 6.5 mile underground railway which carried post between Paddington and Liverpool Street from 1927 to 2003.
Thirteen of the group turned out early for a stroll around historic Clerkenwell. This took us past a house that once belonged to Janet Street Porter and then to the medieval Gateway to the Priory of the Knights of St John. We crossed Clerkenwell Road to Clerkenwell Green where we paused to admire the London Masonic Centre and the Marx Memorial Library. We tried to view St James Church but were thwarted by preparations for a wedding. Continuing up and down some attractive streets we eventually arrived at Exmouth Market and from there it was a short walk to the Calthorpe Arms where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch (I think we overwhelmed the kitchen but the food was good when it came). We met the rest of the group and headed back to Mount Pleasant to board the Mail Rail. As the website warned us, Mail Rail was designed to carry post, not people, so if you were not short and slight of stature it was quite a cramped ride, although a very informative one with video presentations at the platforms along the 2 mile circular route. After the ride there was an exhibition of the history of Mail Rail with opportunities to control the signals, to sort the post on a moving train, and to dress up (see photo). Across the road there was a separate but equally fascinating exhibition about the history of the Postal Service. Most of us ended the afternoon with a welcome cuppa in the café.
Main photo: Richard Pope CCASA 2.0 Generic