Planning App for Underground Railway Preservation Submitted by BPMA
The planning app to the London Borough of Islington is seeking approval to change use of workshops at ground level, the vehicle maintenance depot and a part of the tunnel network close to Mount Pleasant - the world's oldest mail centre - to, for the first time, allow public access to the site.
This planning application is a part of the BPMA's project to create a new postal museum and archive for Britain and follows on from another application already submitted by Royal Mail proposing a wider redevelopment for parts of the Mount Pleasant site that are no longer needed for postal operations.
Mail Rail came in to service during 1927 and remained in constant use until 2003. It remains the world's sole purpose-built underground mail transit system. Mail Rail is actually an electrified narrow gauge railway with unmanned carriages that conveyed mail across London between Whitechapel and Paddington calling at six stations. Mail Rail operated for 22 hours a day and carried up to 4 million letters at the height of its use.
The BPMA proposal is claimed to be an exciting new development that will showcase the unique features and important engineering of this unique transport system. Alterations are planned to be sympathetic to the existing building fabric and will preserve the character and appearance of the site.
Planned exhibition space will be used to highlight the heritage of Mail Rail and how the system operated by linking to the wider story of mail by rail around the rest of the country and overseas. The development also contains plans to create space for events, functions and conferences plus a Family Zone aimed specifically at children and families to be made available for all community members.
Securing this planning permission will be a significant move forward towards the BPMA goal of opening a new museum and visitor experience at Mount Pleasant after plans for a new museum at Calthorpe House were previously approved in July 2012. Fundraising is already underway to cover the project shortfall.
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