Mail Rail at the Postal Museum

The London Post Office Railway, affectionately known as ‘Mail Rail,’ is a six-mile loop of hidden history; between 1927 and 2003 it carried post through a loop of tunnels under London’s streets, reaching from Paddington to Stepney.

It’s also a museum, – part of the Postal Museum in the Mount Pleasant Mail Centre – opened in Summer 2017 and featuring two large-scale, panoramic projections created by Centre Screen in conjunction with designers Haley Sharp.

“Platform One” takes visitors back through the railway’s history to its 1930s heyday. Along the way, passengers witness not just postal history but the development of modern society. Authenticity was the watchword; for instance, the locker room backgrounds were shot on location to ensure accuracy. Blending archive, motion graphics and character voice performance to create a truly immersive journey, this 18-metre projection captures Mail Rail’s unique sense of place and personality as well as its story.

“Platform Two” uses similar archive treatment and animation techniques, but integrates them with newly-shot footage and CGI. Filmed over four days against a green screen backdrop 18m square, it called for hundreds of authentic period props, a cast of over twenty people, a genuine 1930s Austin car and a cat. The result is a 22-metre, life-size, projection-mapped extravaganza, filmed at twice the resolution of an IMAX movie and occupying over 300GB of data storage, that brings to life the railway at its peak, following three letters from writer to recipient.

Both pieces feature audio description, maximising access to this hitherto inaccessible part of the capital’s heritage.