The Postal Museum

The 1838 Public Records Act was the first step in organising government archives, including the civil service department known then as ‘the Post Office’. This represents the beginnings of what is now The Royal Mail Archive.

By 1896, a report concerning the maintenance of Post Office records had been produced and the first archivist was appointed.

In 1966, a National Postal Museum was founded, in part due to Reginald M Phillips’ award-winning collection of British Victorian stamps. The collection contains the world’s very first, first day cover – that of the Penny Black. It also includes 1839 Treasury Essays for pre-paid postage, Rowland Hill letters and unique proofs and studies of stamps such as the Twopenny Blue and the Penny Red.

The museum was officially opened by the Queen on 19 February 1969. It included the Phillips stamp collection as well as postal equipment, uniforms and vehicles. In 1998, the management of the museum and archive was brought together as the new Heritage unit of the Post Office. As the British postal landscape changed, the Heritage unit was transferred to an independent charitable trust, in order to safeguard the future of its past. This ‘Postal Heritage Trust’ came into being in April 2004, and is publicly known as The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA).

In January 2016 the BPMA is re-launched as The Postal Museum.