London Underground Posters from WWII

If I tell you that last night we went to ANOTHER interesting talk at a museum, you’re going to get the impression that we’re all cultural and stuff. But don’t worry, this week has so far been anachronistic.  But we did go another talk last night.

“Seeing it Through”, at the London Transport Museum, was a talk and slideshow about posters designed or commissioned by the London Underground during World War II.  It’s quite a fascinating subject, and I really enjoyed myself.  I think Alex liked it too, although he was not as interested in some of the design aspects.  The speakers were both excellent and well-informed, and I think I’m quite likely to go back next week for another talk!

This blogger was at the event last night, and her website talks a lot about various posters and such, particularly the now-famous (or infamous, depending on your design senses) Keep Calm and Carry On poster that has taken over the world.

Here are just a few of the posters we learned about:

During WWI and the beginning of WWII many of the LU posters were informational, using simple letterpress with nothing fancy. These were not very successful at transmitting information, although they are certainly clear.

This poster shows that a little rhyme can be more successful and interesting. Customers were even encouraged to complete another two lines and win £10!

This poster shows a real life "clippy", or conductor, doing her "war work". In the museum archives there are records about who this woman was; she worked near Shepherd's Bush, and apparently between September (when she started her job) and December (when the photo was taken) her home was bombed out in the blitz. (I think the year was 1941, but I might be mistaken.)

These are some of my favorite posters from the time, and feature cartoon characters dealing with everyday situations on the Tube. Since many people were coming to London during the war and not all were familiar with Tube etiquette, these posters were commissioned to try and "train" (haha, no pun intended) the new passengers about the best ways to naviage the system.

This, of course, is now the uber-famous slogan that hipsters everywhere have adopted. The funny thing is that this poster was never used during the war! It was designed, produced, and distributed for use in case the country was invaded, but that never happened.


Posted on 02/03/2011, in Publishing, Silly British Things, Transit, Within London and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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