Fascinating, very intereactive, step free museum
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Walking Aid
The Postal Museum tells the story of the British postal service and has a phenomenal and impressive display of artefacts, many very iconic. It tells the history of the postal service and telephone services. The museum is located on two sites, which are almost just across the road from each other. Both buildings are step free. The larger building houses the main museum collection and its archives centre. The smaller building is home to Mail Rail and a smaller exhibition gallery. Mail Rail, which used to transport post has been adapted to accommodate passengers, however people have to meet their evacuation requirements to be able to ride the train.
Transport & Parking
The nearest step free tube stations are King's Cross and Farringdon. From both these station you can take a number 63 bus to a stop which is a couple of minutes level walk to the museum. Also there are other buses which stop close by.
There are two buildings, the main museum and the Mail Rail, both are in the same road and almost opposite to each other and there is a zebra crossing. Both buildings are step free and have automatic entrance doors. The main museum building is accessed by a shallow ramp into a courtyard area where there are tables and chairs and a display of pillar boxes. The main door is automatic and it leads into the shop and café area. Then its straight on to the start of the museum's galleries, which are all on the ground level. At the entrance there are some portable stools. Please be aware that seating inside the galleries is limited. There is a video screen which has benches to sit and watch the films and where there are interactive things to do there are often chairs. However there are no specific seating for people who simply need to rest on their way round, so I'd advise taking a portable stool if you require a seat. We visited on a busy Sunday afternoon and there were a lot of people visiting the galleries. There are lots of things to see and the museum is very interactive, for example you can have your photo taken for you to include it into your own personal stamp, which you can email to yourself, but you have to be at the right angle to do this and it maybe difficult for some disabled people to participate in this. The lighting in the museum is good overall and display cases and information boards are at varying heights. The Mail Rail is only accessible for people who meet their evacuation procedures requirements, so I was unable to go on it. In the Mail Rail building there is a shop on the ground floor. The lower ground floor is accessible by a platform lift or staircase with hand railings. On the lower ground floor is the mail rail, an exhibition gallery and video footage area. The exhibition gallery related to the Mail Rail and transporting of letters and parcels. Please be aware that the Travelling Post Office, which is a reconstruction of a railway carriage may start to move. When I visited there were no notices warning of this. I went inside and it was stationary. I then noticed that the floor started to move from side to side and I very nearly lost my balance. Speaking to staff I was informed that the floor is stationary until someone picks up one of the letters and puts it in one of the holds and that then triggers the floor to move. I asked if signs could be put up at both entrances to it, to warn people about the floor's movement and I was told they would arrange this. At the far end of the exhibition gallery there is an area , which had red and white chevron signs and no other signposting. I think this is because most people will go on Mail Rail and then it will be the first thing they see when they exit the train. I only knew it was there because I had been online and read bout it and asked a member of staff where it was. In this area is the Accessible Rail Mail Show. When I first realised due to my disability that I would not be allowed on the Mail Rail, I was pleased to read that they have a video show for people who can or don't want to ride the train. This is a very personal view, but I assumed the video was footage of the entire train journey so one could get as close as possible to knowing what it was like riding the train. However the video cuts between footage of the train ride and historical information. I felt this was more geared towards providing additional information to people who had already been on the train rather than for people who couldn't ride the train. I was already feeling disappointed that I was unable to ride the train with my friends, and then felt further excluded by not getting a real sense of what riding the train felt like. The Accessible Rail Mail Show has tip up seats, like in theatres, which means that wheelchair users can also access the space. There are subtitles for the video show and audio is accessed by head phones which are at the back of the chairs.
There are accessible toilets in both the main museum building and Mail Rail. In the main building there are toilets on the ground floor next to the self service counter in the café. There are a number of individual unisex toilets, some of which also have a wheelchair symbol on the door. In the accessible toilets there are grab rails and an emergency alarm, although the cubicle I used the cord was clipped onto the grab rail. In Mail Rail the toilets are on the lower floor. The signage for the accessible toilets in the Mail Rail was non existent. I raised this with staff when I was there and they said they would address it. There is a large screen with seating, which is separate from the Accessible Rail Mail Show. Either side of the screen are doorways which have the unisex toilet sign at the entrances. There was no accessible toilet sign. Looking face onto the giant screen through the right hand doorway is an accessible toilet with grab rails but no emergency cord and only a unisex toilet sign. There is also another door which has a triangular fire notice on it, which gives the impression of it being a cupboard, and it was only on closer inspection that we realised that the lock was for a radar key. I used my radar key and discovered that it was a Changing Places toilet, with a bed, screen, hoist, grab rail but no emergency alarm.
When I spotted of the lack of signage for the accessible toilets and the moving floor of the Travelling Post Office both in the Mail Rail building I spoke to the nearest member of staff, Martin, who is a volunteer there. He was extremely helpful, he went to check out the issues for himself so he could first had report it back to his managers. As I was waiting for my friends to come off the Mail Rail, he came back over to me and said he had already raised it and he gave me an email address where I could write into if I had any further comments and he assured me that the lack of signage could be addressed quickly. Otherwise I had minimal contact with the other staff.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
Apart from the issue of signage the museum has been very well laid out with step free routes and accessible and changing places toilets. The exhibition galleries are full of interesting items and information. It's very family friendly and interactive. Although it might sound a bit too specialist, it's not, it has a lot of iconic items on display from postage stamps, pillar boxes and telephone boxes. There's different types of transport, uniforms, etc, which means that there's something of interest for everyone. I would highly recommend a visit.