Home » About Us » Departments & Groups » Travelling Post Office Group - Travelling Post Office Group

Travelling Post Office Group

Nene Valley Railway is home to one of the most extensive collections of Royal Mail vehicles in the whole of the UK.

Our collection is primarily based at Overton and consists of a mixture of Travelling Post Office (TPO) railway coaches, and various road vehicles.

Nene Valley Railway is one of a very few locations where we are able to perform Mailbag Exchanges, where heavy bags of mail are transferred in leather pouches from a moving train onto large nets on the ground. We run a number of events throughout the year including Mail by Rail and children’s events. Have a look at the Events page and social media channels for more information on these.

The heart of our TPO collection is the 1960s-built Mark 1 TPO vehicles: there are five on the railway and they feature in the Mailbag Exchanges.

Also in our collection are an LMS-design TPO coach M30272M, which is the last surviving coach from the Great Train Robbery, the body of a Great Northern TPO coach, a 2-foot gauge unit from the Postal Railway in London, and the cab of a modern 325 EMU mail train.

The group are actively restoring the coaches on site and would welcome volunteers to assist with the ongoing restoration, maintenance and operation of these coaches. Please get in touch via the volunteering page.

The yard at Overton is known as "The Night Mail Project" and regular updates can be found on the Overton Station / Night Mail Museum Facebook page.

History of the Group

In 1994 the Nene Valley Railway (NVR) acquired a Travelling Post Office (TPO) on loan from the National Railway Museum. It was a Maunsell-designed fully equipped sorting vehicle without mail bag exchange apparatus. The NVR used this vehicle as a static exhibit to house the railway’s "museum".

During the same year a number of volunteers expressed the wish to acquire a working TPO vehicle of their own. Once again the National Railway Museum became the focus of attention when it was announced that they wanted to dispose of an ex-LMS TPO M30272M that was equipped as a full sorting vehicle, but this time with full mail bag exchange facilities.

Eventually this coach was acquired and fundraising began in earnest with the formation of a Group of "Friends" to support this aim. A long uphill struggle commenced to raise money to restore a coach which was in really poor condition.

While this was going on, the enthusiasm to operate a working TPO increased. To make this possible, the Locomotive Club of Great Britain loaned the NVR, on a long-term basis, a set of lineside standards that would allow the Group to hire a TPO from other sources to demonstrate the working of the mail bag exchange equipment. In 2000 the very first mail bag exchange took place to the east of Wansford.

Eventually, when the TPO service ceased in 2004, NVR was able to acquire 4 Mk1 TPOs from EWS. One of these vehicles was able to be equipped with mail bag exchange equipment and now has a four-set TPO rake of its own.

Since then, an 1885 GNR TPO coach body has been acquired, as has a fifth Mk1 TPO which is used by the railway’s civil engineers.

« Back To Departments & Groups