After lots of stops and starts due to Covid we finally got the project going. Thank you to everyone involved for being so helpful and understanding.
The wonderful documentary "The Postman's Knock" was premiered at the Postal Museum on the morning of July 19th 2021. It was a lovely event, hosted by the children, with an audience made up of the interviewees and their guests plus lots more. Despite some covid enforced absences it was a busy morning.
The children introduced the project by talking about what they have been doing and then reading some of the writing they have produced for the project. The film was then shown followed by a Q&A with children joined by interviewess Paul Wood and Jane Buttigieg. They spoke about their involvement in the project and just how much they enjoyed being involved. Next were a few brief words from Ian Murphy of the CWU, from Ms DaCosta the class TA, and from Laura Wright, the CEO of the Postal Museum.
As with many of our premieres we ended on a song with the children leading on the old English folk tune "The Postman's Knock" with everyone joining for the chorus.
After this the children went back to school and the Postal Museum hosted a lunch and tea and coffee which gave the attendees the opportunity to meet eachother and have a chat.
All in all, it was a joyful and uplifting event. Thanks to everyone for coming along and taking part.
The project started with Matthew and Sav from digital-works explaining what we were going to do on the project and answering our questions. This was followed by a visit to the school from a historian who gave a workshop on the history of the Postal Service which goes back to Henry the VIII. This was followed by a "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" quiz to check what we remembered! We also learned an old song called "The Postman's Knock" and even did some Morris Dancing.
In the afternoon former postal worker Bob Collins came in to talk to us about his working life and to answer our questions. He started working in the Rag Trade before moving to work at Mount Pleasant sorting office where he stayed for 28 years. He told us all about the ins and outs of working there. The huge building had inland and foreign sorting and handled millions of letters and parcels a year. Thousands of people worked there. t was not just a place to work, it was a place to socialise and to explore your interestsI. It had it's own bars and sports facilities, and even a shooting rnage in the basement. Bob enjoyed his working life and was sad when he decided to take voluntary redundancy in 2009 due to the increased mechanisation of the work. We really enjoyed meeting him and look forward to interviewing him on camera later in the project.
The whole class went on a trip to the Postal Museum in Clerkenwell, right next to Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, one of the largest sorting offices in Europe. This was the first school trip since Covid made such trips impossible so the whole class were particularly excited. The visit was hosted by Sally and Andy at the museum. The staff from the museum had prepared activities specially for the project using both the galleries and their archive.
In the morning the class were divided in two with half on the galleries exploring and interpretting the objects and material on display. Meanwhile the other half went up into the archive where they did some picture research and also actually went into the temperature controlled vaults to look at material there.
In the afternoon the whole class went for a ride on Mail Rail which was really fun. This is the underground electric train system built by the post office and run from 1928 to 2004. The train runs between several stations, recreating what the work would have been like and with some spectacular video and light displays. There is also an audio presentation.
Matthew and Sav from digital-works came and did some very fun and very intensive film and oral history training with the whole class. There was lots to learn covering how documentaries, using cut aways, editing and music. We then covered the many technical and aesthetic issues around operating the cameras and audio equipment.
We worked in small teams with plenty of hands-on experience to get to grips with the equipment. Next there was training around oral history interview techniques, types of questions to ask, where to interview, how to interview, body language and again, plenty of practise. Following this was a workshop on developing interview questions, what themes to explore, what questions to ask basing this on all of the research covered earlier in the project.
The class worked in small teams and, over the following days, welcomed older and retired postal workers into the school to be interviewed. In total twenty two people came along and gave wonderful interviews.
These were extremely interesting as we met people who had worked in sorting, on deliery and also working on the counters. Some began their working lives with the post office 62 years ago.
People spoke about their working lives, why they started working for the Post Office. Many had family members working for the Post Office, some going back generations. They spoke about the fun and family atmosphere, but also the long hours as the basic pay was low meaning they had to do lots of overtime, and some even had other jobs too. They told us about their work, the fun and difficulties, and how important the Union was to their working lives. All of the full audio interviews are up on the interviews page of this website so please do have a listen.
When all of the interviews were complete the whole class reviewed what they had covered in these interiews and discussed editing options with Matthew and Sav and did a "paper edit", sketching out how the film might look. Matthew and Sav then went off to do the final edit.
Meanwhile we are going to spend the next few weeks working with our class teachers on writing pieces inspired by the project. We are going to write letters to the interviewees thanking them, as well as accounts of the project, imagined diaries and poetry. Unfortunately the whole class had to miss some school at this point as we needed to isolate at home due to Covid!
Matthew and Sav brought the rough edit of the film in to show the class followed by in-depth discussion, what worked, what needed to be changed , and generally any changes to be made in order to make the film as good as possible. There was also discussion about the premiere, how the class were going to run this and how to prepare ready for July 19th. The film is called "The Postman's Knock"
After the premiere the film is going to be given to everyone involved on a DVD and the film will be available to watch on the film page on this website.