The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) will celebrate the centenary of the first aerial post with a refresh of the Treasures of the Archive exhibition to include exclusive items from to the event. The updated exhibition will open to the public on Friday 9 September.
The exhibition will feature the striking 1911 poster promoting the flight. This poster also forms the basis of Royal Mail’s new miniature sheet, with the presentation pack written by BPMA Philatelic Curator Douglas Muir.
Other exciting exhibits will include the original artwork for commemorative postcards and envelopes carried on the flight, as well as the postcard addressed from the pilot Gustav Hamel to the Postmaster General. The original handstamps from both Hendon and Windsor will also be on display.
The first flight of the Aerial Post took place on 9 September 1911 between Hendon and Windsor. Although it lasted less than a month, this was the world’s first-ever regularly scheduled airmail service, established as part of the celebrations for the coronation of King George V.
Four pilots were hired to fly the service between and Hendon Aerodrome and Windsor Great Park: Gustav Hamel, E F Driver, C Cresswell, and Claude Hubert. Unfortunately, Hubert crashed on take-off and broke both legs. He was eventually paid £500 in compensation from the profits of the service after a strike by the other pilots.
Douglas Muir, Curator, Philately at the BPMA commented:
“Today we take air travel and transport for granted. It is almost unbelievable that it is only 100 years since its debut, with extraordinarily flimsy machines and excited crowds.
The BPMA has a fascinating collection of objects and records relating to airmail, and I am delighted to have a selection of them on show in this exhibition.”
To commemorate the anniversary, an A5-sized postcard depicting the 1911 Aerial poster, with the ideal space for the miniature sheet, will be available to buy. The postcard is being produced in a numbered limited edition of 200. A brand new postcard pack featuring airmail-themed images will also be produced. The postcards will be available from the end of August, keep checking the website (http://shop.postalheritage.org.uk) for further details.