We have recently taken delivery and ownership of a vehicle from the Post Office Underground Railway. This line opened in 1927 and was mothballed in 2003 and ran through Central London. Vehicle no. 807 was built in 1930 and was used until 1984 when it was preserved by the British Postal Museum & Archive. It was donated to The Nene Valley Railway in 2013.
Most people who visit London have never heard of this underground railway, yet alone seen it. The 2ft gauge London Post Office Railway ran in tunnels underneath London between Paddington and East London, beyond Liverpool Street. The line operated between 1927 and 2003. The electric railway carried no passengers, had no drivers or guards, but at one stage carried 25 million letters a week.
The building of the line was not straightforward. It was first proposed in 1911 and construction started in 1915. Due to labour shortages in the First World War, work stopped in 1917 and the line was not opened until 1927.
The first batch of vehicles were built in 1927. However these did not prove to be successful and were too heavy for the line, causing a number of derailments. As such a new design of stock were constructed in 1930, with more to the same design being built in 1936. No. 807 was built as part of the second batch in 1930. In 1980 a further, more modern, design was introduce to replace the aging 1930’s stock. A number of the 1930’s stock were upgraded at this time to supplement the new stock and were used until the line closed.
By 2003 it was claimed that transporting post on the railway was five times more expensive as by road so the decision was taken to close the line.