The Mail Rail, London, England
The climax of ‘Orphan of the Flames’ sees Team Veritas in London but Level Five are close on their heels.
It was important to me that Level Five use hidden underground locations for their meetings and their work and in ‘Orphan of the Flames’ I have the chance to begin to tell readers about some of the real locations that, in my imagination, are under the control of Level Five. One of the most exciting and fascinating locations is The Mail Rail.
‘What is this place?’ The air was dank. The light low. A sheeting of dust filmed everything.…
…The crack in the door had led into a wide barny space filled with shelves and tables. The shelves were empty. Signs showing letters of the alphabet hung from the ceiling.
‘An abandoned library?’ whispered Sheldon.
‘No. I told you. It’s the sorting office. Where the post comes,’ said Hunter.
‘But there’s nothing here.’
Brodie stepped forward. A cloud of dust lifted. The sign hanging over her head swung to the side, creaking as it moved.
‘It’s not used any more, then?’ said Tusia.
‘Can’t be. Looks like no one’s been in this part for years.’
(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Two ‘Orphan of the Flames.’) Show the full extract
The secret underground railway was built to move letters and parcels underground because the streets of London above were clogged with traffic. It operated from 3 December 1927 until 31 May 2003. There were 23 miles or 37 kms of track and 9 stations. All the trains were driverless and were controlled from the platforms. The carriages were a bit like huge cages. The mail was thrown inside and the lid shut as the trains hurried to their destination. At one time the trains carried 4 million letters and parcels a day! Only one train was designed with seats and this was open at the sides and used for special visitors.
The trains ran in a single tunnel which measured 9 feet across. As the station approached, the tunnel divided into two 7 feet tunnels. In the First World War these huge tunnels became useful for storing important artwork and national treasures in.
In 2003 the railway was ‘mothballed’. This means it was left exactly as it was but closed for use. The Post Office felt it was too expensive to run anymore.
And so a secret unused working railway service does exist beneath the streets of London waiting to be used by those who need it! Level Five didn’t take long to make use of the underground system to help them in their work.
Check out this ‘official video’ that was made to explain the work of the Mail Rail before the service shut in 2003. It’s quite old fashioned as it was obviously made a while ago. You get to see though, how the trains ran under London and how the mail was carried down twisting chutes before it was thrown into ‘cage-like’ carriages and fitted to the train. Hopefully, it will help you imagine the last scenes of ‘Orphan of the Flames’ more clearly.
I hope you enjoyed your trip round the Mail Rail. But remember, officially, the network is no longer in use…!!
As the ‘Secret Breakers’ series continues you’ll find out about lots more secret locations underground. You’ll be amazed at what’s happening right under your feet….so check back soon to find out more as the series progresses!