Mount Pleasant: '...the largest sorting office in the world'

Detail from a drawing of the Clerkenwell area in 1562 with the future site of Mount Pleasant marked

Detail from a drawing of the Clerkenwell area in 1562 with the future site of Mount Pleasant marked

Clerkenwell in 1562

Clerkenwell in 1562


At the start of the 20th century, Mount Pleasant in London was reckoned to be 'probably the largest sorting office in the world'. A century later, it is still one of the largest and busiest sorting offices in Britain. It is a landmark in the London 'village' of Clerkenwell, and its staff handle millions of items of mail each day.

The Mount Pleasant complex is also home to the BPMA: our main office and The Royal Mail Archive Search Room are on Phoenix Place, on the west side of the site (look out for the photograph in this exhibition showing the boiler house chimney...it's where the BPMA is now!).

'The Mount' has a fascinating history, even before its role as one of the key centres in Britain's communications network. This online exhibition explores a little of this history, drawing on the many historic documents and images to be found at The Royal Mail Archive.

Take a look at the image left. It shows the Clerkenwell area in 1562, when this was largely countryside on the outskirts of the City of London. You might be able to recognise how some of the roads still follow the same routes today. There are only a few buildings amongst the fields, yet this is less than a mile north of the city walls. The site of Mount Pleasant is marked with a red dot.

Click on the links below to read the story of Mount Pleasant.

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