Visitors are invited to make a free ‘interactive’ trip to a pop-up WW1 mail sorting office in The Regent’s Park – evoking the giant wooden building called the ‘Home Depot’ that handled all the mail from the front line 100 years ago.
Two free public events, hosted by The Royal Parks charity and The Royal Parks Guild on Saturday 12th and 19th May, 2018, invite the public to discover the vital role played by London’s Royal Parks during wartime Britain.
During the war, soldiers and their families sent over two billion letters and 140 million parcels. Every single item of post sent to members of the British Army went through the Home Depot at The Regent’s Park. It was sorted by thousands of postal workers – many of whom were women - and sent on to soldiers across the world.
The sorting office was believed to be the largest wooden building in the world - initially it covered four acres of The Regent’s Park and was then extended, increasing its area to just over five acres.
Now one hundred years on, visitors are invited to join an immersive experience, bringing to life the story of the 2,500 people who worked there to make sure soldiers' mail was delivered safely, securely and quickly.
Visitors can learn more and even work a shift, as part of an interactive session led by The Postal Museum.
There is a First World War outdoor exhibition showing how the Post Office kept the war going - and how jammy buns kept them going.
And there’s a chance to write a postcard to a soldier, a postwoman, your great-grandparents, or a parks gardener to tell them what you think about the First World War.
Eleanor Harding, WW1 Project Officer at The Royal Parks charity, said: “Today the Royal Parks’ beautiful green spaces provide millions of visitors a chance to interact with nature, heritage and culture away from the busy capital. But 100 years ago, a stroll through The Regent’s Park would have taken you past the biggest wooden building in the world – one which played a crucial role in maintaining morale during the war and connecting loved ones.
“With activities, talks and exhibitions suitable for all ages, this interactive event is a great opportunity to find out the vital role The Royal Parks played in WW1 - whether it was handling a parcel from an Australian woman to her husband or a letter from an Indian sepoy home to his dad.”
David Ivison, Vice-Chairman of The Royal Parks Guild, said: “So much of the knowledge relating to how the Royal Parks were used during World War One has been lost over time. Research organised by the Guild has revealed a wealth of information about the way government authorities utilised the parks to aid the war effort. It is not just about the parks, but also those who worked in them.”
The First World War project has been made possible by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War Then and Now programme. The project runs until December 2019, with a host of events being organised in the Royal Parks over the next two years.