The Mail Rail Viewers

The Postal Museum

The Mail Rail shuttled post between Paddington and Whitechapel deep beneath London’s streets from 1927 to 2003. The Royal Mail’s then high speed network delivered letters from the other side of London in a little under 5 minutes. Maintaining those trains was undertaken at Mount Pleasant, right under the Royal Mail’s postal sorting office which stands on the site today.

Mothballed in 2003, the Mail Rail’s huge underground complex of tunnels, trains and platforms has remained closed, left exactly as it was for the best part of a decade. The Depot was scanned by ScanLAB Projects in 2015, capturing the tunnels, platforms and terminals along with all the spanners, nuts and bolts before its transformation into the Postal Museum.

The British Postal Museum opened on the site in July 2017 with two permanent installations Time Telescope & Network Explorer created from those captured 3D scans. Allowing visitors a portal back in time, the Time Telescope shows how the Train Depot looked before the Museum renovated the space. Peeling paint, engine parts and spanners can all be discovered as you search and zoom through the scan.

Guiding visitors around the extensive underground network beneath Mount Pleasant, the Network Explorer gives a forensic perspective to the labyrinth of tunnels, platforms and sidings, which makes up the Mount Pleasant section of the Mail Rail. The scan data and touch screen allow audiences to interact with the scans exploring hidden areas from impossible viewpoints.

ScanLAB Projects | The Postal Museum - The Mail Rail Viewers
The Postal Museum, The Mail Rail Depot, Network Explorer, installation view
ScanLAB Projects | The Postal Museum - The Mail Rail Viewers
The Postal Museum, The Mail Rail Depot , Network Explorer

Retracing the Mail Rail path with a newly designed Time Telescope, visitors are now able to virtually wonder along the platforms, having unique viewing access to the tunnel split that allowed the Mail Rail to reach the opposite sides of the city. Lockers, hoist, mail cart and the train graveyard are also featured in the Time Telescope, providing an exact digital legacy of every left spanner, bolt and flaky paint of the authentic Postal Depot.

ScanLAB ProjectsScanLAB Projects
Mail Rail Time Telescope Home Page
Mail Rail Time Telescope in action