Be my Valentine

One of the museum’s Victorian Valentine’s Day cards

Once upon a recent time Bath had an imposing Head Post Office and – in the basement below this bureau of bustling activity – was housed a plucky little Postal Museum – which proudly boasted how the city was the birthplace of the modern postal system and – indeed – the place where the world’s first letter bearing a stamp was sent on its way.

Above ground things have changed. The two have been separated. The city’s grand post office has moved and is now reduced to a counter occupying a corner of the first floor of WH Smith’s in Union Street.

Back on the corner of New Bond Street the Postal Museum soldered on – even through the Pandemic – while plans were announced to hopefully reopen the Fashion Museum in the empty premises above.

It doesn’t help that the old post office shared a common entrance with the museum below as footfall has fallen with postal transactions moving elsewhere.

New signage has gone up and the museum is currently updating its website to make its virtual presence stronger.

B&NES say they are committed to finding funding through donors and grants to allow the Fashion Museum to secure a permanent home in the old building which they now own and – no doubt – if that happens quickly – it will benefit the Postal Museum below.

In the meantime any support locals and tourists can give it will be very much appreciated l am sure.

With Valentine’s Day coming up you might like to know there is a fine display of such love tokens from the days of Queen Victoria – a lady who sadly lost her love quite early on in her marriage.

John Roe

I was grateful to John Roe, an expert in stamp collecting and in charge of exhibitions at the museum, to sort me out some examples.

Before the Victorian era Valentine’s Day had been a festival celebrating romance but without the mass sending of tokens of affection.

It was not until the 19th century that the physical exchange of letters and cards really caught on.

The development of the postal service meant cards could be sent far and wide and, following the industrial revolution, the improvement of the printing press created many mass-produced cards.

Though some handmade cards circulated, elaborate cards such as are in the museum’s collection were also produced on a large scale both in Britain and across the Atlantic.

This and so much more is on display. It’s a fascinating and colourful collection in a museum that, like many others, depends on its enthusiastic volunteers.

Currently opening hours are …

And what will it cost you?

More information – though the website is being revamped – via