In Pictures: Moving the Mail Rail

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Whilst we tend to concentrate on the movement of people and freight, there are other uses to which rail has been put in London – notably the movement of mail.

Earlier this year the British Postal Museum & Archive began work on the preservation of some early rolling stock elements of the now-disused Post Office Railway. The last remaining unit of the original 1927 rolling stock – a green mail car, and an example of the 1930 motive stock were brought to the surface at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre and moved by road to the museum store in Debden where work can now begin on its preservation.

It appears to have been an interesting – and complex – lift. The units were pushed from the car depot beneath Mount Pleasant to the access shaft, and from there were brought to the surface by a mini-crane into the depot’s yard. The 1930s motive unit was seperated into three parts for this, with both being lifted independently. They were then followed by the green metal 1927 car.

Once on the surface, all three units had to be lifted over a storage building onto a flatbed for transportation to the museum store.

Both the motive unit and the mail car are now at the store in Debden, with preservation and restoration work likely in future.

Pictures of the move can be found below, all of which come courtesy of the British Postal Museum & Archive. The museum store is occasionally open for public tours, which are well worth taking when the chance arises. Details of dates can be found on their website here. A few more pictures can be found in the Archive’s photostream.

The first 1930 unit in the shaft

The first 1930 motive unit in the shaft

The first unit is hoisted

The first motive unit is hoisted

The shaft is cleared

The shaft is cleared

The first unit close up

The first motive unit close up

Raising the second motive unit

Raising the second motive unit

The mini-crane used, with the second unit

The mini-crane used, with the second motive unit

Curator Chris Taft waits with the 1927 car

Curator Chris Taft waits with the 1927 car

The 1927 car is raised

The 1927 car is raised

The 1927 unit close up

The 1927 unit close up

Destination Labels on the 1027 car

Destination Labels on the 1027 car

Lifting the 1927 unit over the surrounding buildings

Lifting the 1927 unit over the surrounding buildings

Loading the motive units

Loading the motive units

Motive units on the lorry

Motive units on the lorry at Mount Pleasant

Written by John Bull