Poster of the Week: Epsom Summer Meeting

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Epsom Summer Meeting, Andrew Power, 1933
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Many horse races across the world have adopted the title ’Derby’ but this weekend’s Epsom Derby was the first! Founded in 1780 by its namesake the 12th Earl of Derby, it has become the country’s richest horse race and one of the most prestigious events in the summer sporting calendar.

This week’s poster was designed by the artist Sybil Andrews, an acclaimed modernist printmaker inspired by Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism. From between 1929 and 1937 she worked under the more masculine pseudonym of Andrew Power, in tribute to the artist Cyril Power with whom she shared a studio.  This poster was issued in 1933, to promote the Derby and the race course as a destination. The town of Epsom in Surrey is beyond the reach of the Underground but for Derby day special bus services were operated from the nearest tube station at Morden. In that same year the London Passenger Transport Board was formed to run all bus, tram and Underground railway services in London.  This poster represented the benefits of the newly integrated system and the many exciting events and destinations that could now be promoted.

The poster’s aerial view of the race illustrates the exciting swirl of activity as the horses stream around the course, into Tattenham Corner and out towards the home straight. The rows of open-topped buses that line the route were part of a small fleet of old vehicles still being operated by London Underground. They provided a convenient vantage point for the crowds watching the spectacle.

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Derby Day crowds using NS-type open top buses as viewing platforms, Unknown photographer, 1933

The 1933 Derby was particularly memorable, won by the popular thoroughbred Hyperion who was owned by the 17th Early of Derby. The above photograph from the Museum collection was taken at the 1933 Derby and shows people standing on the open top decks and even sitting on the roofs above the driver’s cabs. This tradition continues today with race-goers arriving in vintage buses to get a bird’s eye view of the finishing post.

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

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A carriage fit for a Queen

150 years of London Underground
Mike Brown shows the Queen the carriage at Baker Street, 20th March 2013 © Chris Radburn (PA)

Coach 353 was originally known as a ‘Jubilee’ coach, the design having been introduced in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee.  Having been such an important part of the Underground’s 150th anniversary celebrations, after a long and chequered career as carriage, workshop, club room, shop and home, coach 353 came full circle on 20 March 2013 when presented to HRH Queen Elizabeth II at Baker Street.

The royal party, including the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Cambridge, made a formal visit to mark the 150th anniversary. They were presented to station and operational staff and to those of us responsible for the restoration and operation of 353, including the apprentice and workshop manager from the Ffestiniog Railway, the chair of our Friends, our chairman and  sponsors Cubic and Siemens.

Shunted into the bay platform 2 at Baker Street, 353 glowed under the lights in all its varnished teak glory, next a four car train of the latest ‘S’- stock with ‘Buckingham Palace’ shown on its destination board. Thus both the past and the future of the Underground were inspected by the royal party and a presentation of a framed ‘Trooping the Colour’ poster by Margaret Calkin James from 1932 made to Her Royal Highness. Our trustee, Howard Collins, then stole the media show by presenting a ‘Baby on Board’ lapel badge to the Duchess of Cambridge. 353 stayed in the bay for the rest of the day and attracted a great deal of interest before being moved back overnight to our Acton Depot.

Poster of the Week – The Swiftest Way to Pleasure

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The swiftest way to pleasure; Whitsun joy wheel – Charles Sharland, 1913
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It’s a bank holiday weekend again and hopefully you’ve got some fun plans. But if you haven’t decided what you’re up to yet then why not take a look at our events calendar for some exciting ideas, including some fantastic steam runs!

For this week’s Poster of the Week we wanted to share with you one of the older posters in our Poster Art 150 exhibition The Swiftest Way to Pleasure (1913) by Charles Sharland. He was one of the in-house designers at Waterlow and Sons, one of the main printers of Underground posters, from the 1900s to the 1920’s. Although little is known about Sharland’s family background or artistic training he designed over 122 posters for London Transport. You can view most of these posters on our online collections site.

Bank holidays were a great focus for promoting off-peak travel and in this poster Sharland is advertising the diverse leisure destinations accessible by Underground. The Underground ‘bull’s-eye’ symbol in the centre was part of the Underground’s corporate identity and it was not until 1916 that the calligrapher Edward Johnston was asked to adapt his typeface to fit in a new roundel logo; the logo we know today.

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© National Fairground Archive Collections

Sharland has shown the ‘bull’s-eye’ as a ‘Joy Wheel’ – a popular fairground contraption from 1910 until the late 1920’s consisting of a slightly conical polished disc that spun riders around and around until they fell off. The Joy Wheel rides were more commonly found at seaside resorts and accounts suggest that they were just as much fun for the spectators as they were for the participants! In the poster, Sharland’s characters are falling towards the different out-of-town destinations served by the Underground.

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is…

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We Love Steam!

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A look back at the April Depot Open Weekend

As part of the Museum’s celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, London Transport Museum opened its Depot in Acton for an extended Depot Open Week in April. Throughout the week we offered a series of special workshops which gave members of the public the opportunity to see more of the Museum’s transport collections and learn a new skill based on the heritage of the newly restored Carriage No. 353. The workshops were extremely popular and included vehicle photography, a Cab-it day, textile design and creative writing.

On the Saturday we opened the doors for our annual Depot Open Weekend with a series of activities designed around the theme of ‘We Love Steam’. Undeterred by the inclement weather, long queues formed out of the Depot and onto Gunnersbury Lane on what was set to become the busiest ever public opening of the Museum the team had ever experienced.

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Alongside opportunities to stand on the footplate of the recently restored Met Locomotive  No. 1 which was in light steam, visitors were encouraged to see for themselves the opulent interior of the newly restored Carriage No. 353 on show in all its gold leaf glory, and wonder what it must have been like to travel First Class on the Victorian Underground. Volunteers from the London Transport Museum Friends, our partnership funders for the project were on hand to reveal the rich history of the oldest known surviving Metropolitan Railway carriage and tell the story of its recently completed restoration.

Also in attendance were staff and volunteers of the Ffestiniog Railway, restorers of Carriage No. 353 who had transported the Welsh Highland Railway locomotive  Prince from North Wales as part of their own celebrations of the 150th anniversary of narrow gauge railway. Long queues formed all day for the opportunity to stand on the footplate of Met 1, look around Carriage No. 353 and to take part in short rides on Prince. We recorded the highest ever turnout for a Depot Open Weekend and welcomed over 5,800 visitors smashing all previous attendance figures.

The weekend’s other activities included rides the ever-popular Acton Miniature Railway, collections tours and talks on Carriage No. 353’s history and recent restoration delivered by the Project Curator Tim Shields. The Museum’s restored train also provided the inspiration for our programme of family activities. Younger visitors were given the opportunity to create their own model steam train and decorate a Victorian lady or gentleman who might have travelled on Carriage No. 353 in the 19th Century.

On the Sunday, we were delighted to welcome Wesley Kerr, the Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s London Committee who surveyed the recent restoration of the carriage, boarded the footplate of Met 1 and enjoyed rides on both Prince and the Acton Miniature Railway. The next Depot Open Week takes place in October.

Plenty More Room On Top

Our volunteers at the museum regularly put their shoulders to the wheel to help make sure that our visitors have a memorable experience. One of those experience s in ‘Object handling’ which is always popular – an opportunity to play with stuff, hands on. These sessions often have a bus theme, and on the day that I called in the guys were in full swing with fare tables, caps and various ticket machines.

For someone of – ahem – my vintage, it can come as a bit of shock to realise that bus conductors will be a distant memory for anyone under the age of ten, and probably unknown to those under eight. So it’s no longer safe to assume that our younger guests have any conception of why there were conductors and what they got up to. A significant part of the experience is therefore an initiation into the daily work of the ladies and gentlemen collecting fares on the RT, trolleybus or tram.

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I found volunteers Peter Brown, John Campbell and Joe Ross accepting this challenge. As you can see, our heroic trio were under various states of siege on the day, and not just from the younger patrons. The desire to handle a Gibson ticket machine obviously runs deep in the population at large, so it’s just as well that there were two to hand on the stall. I’m not ashamed to admit (well not much) that I had a go myself with one, and you’d be surprised by just how heavy they are.

Joe is the novice of the team, having some 3 months under his belt as a volunteer, but he was in safe hands with the experienced pair of John and Peter. Both have volunteered for a number of years, and been involved in many activities to support the work of the museum. Peter is also active with the London Bus Museum at Brooklands, so I think we can safely say that he has the bug badly.

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You can also see in the accompanying photos two trainee conductors I met, Uma and Niyam Shah – I think a couple of weeks at the Chiswick training school and they’ll be ready to apply to the Traffic Commissioners for their badges. I can’t help but think that Uma might have the edge on her brother if they find themselves on the 15. And hurry up, it’s my turn with the cap…….

Dave Olney, Volunteer

Poster of the Week – Brightest London and home by Underground

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Brightest London and home by Underground, Horace Taylor, 1924
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This weekend is Museums at Night and it’s a great opportunity to get out and enjoy your favourite museums after hours. Tonight at London Transport Museum we’re hosting a ‘Brightest London’ Friday Late filled with art, animations, dressing up, drinks, tours, readings and a fantastic quiz!

To celebrate our Brightest London night, we’ve chosen another gem from our Poster Art 150 exhibition – Brightest London and home by Underground (1924) by Horace Taylor. This poster was issued in November 1924 in the run up to Christmas, hence the bright lights, party hats and streamers!

The festive atmosphere shows London’s most stylish residents enjoying a modern and sophisticated night out; the Champagne bottles and coupe glasses on the tables, along with the men’s ‘white’ tie’ dress (the most formal evening dress code in Western fashion), subtle indicators that this is a very special occasion! Such associations between luxury, affluence and Underground travel helped to reinforce the idea that the smart set always used the Tube. Indeed, Underground posters often depicted a fashionable crowd as this made Underground travel seem stylish and aspirational – an important part of encouraging passengers to make use of off-peak services.

Earlier this year we also blogged about the counterpart to this poster, ‘Brightest London is best reached by Underground’. This poster showed sophisticated Londoners heading down the Tube escalators on their way to a night out on the town. Can you spot any of the same passengers from that escalator poster in this party poster?

During our Friday Late tonight you’ll have the opportunity to dress up in bright clothes and hats for photo-shoots based on this poster! We’re looking forward to seeing you at Brightest London!

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

Vote Now

Poster of the Week – Cup Final Wembley

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Cup final Wembley Saturday April 24th, Eric George Fraser, 1928
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The FA Cup Final this weekend is one of the country’s great sporting events; watched by football fans all over the world. The competition began in 1871, at a time when the rules of the game were still evolving, the centre circle and half way line weren’t marked and there were no free kicks or penalties. The first final was held at the Oval in Kennington and saw Wanderers play the Royal Engineers in front of a crowd of just 2000 fans, with Wanderers scoring the winning goal. This weekend it’s underdogs Wigan Athletic taking on the might of Manchester City at Wembley stadium, in front of a crowd of 90,000!

This fantastic poster was created by the artist Eric Fraser to promote the 1928 FA Cup Final. It was posted inside underground trains, in the panels above the windows and the glass partitions by the doors. Designed to increase passenger numbers and boost leisure travel, panel posters were printed in large numbers and only displayed for a few weeks ahead of an event. Fraser has skilfully included an amazing amount of information in this remarkably simple design. Set behind the goal, the low viewpoint allows for a panoramic view of the stadium. As the players bear down on the goalkeeper and the ball hurtles towards the back of the net, Fraser’s illustration captures the suspense and excitement of a cup final match. Even the iconic twin towers of Wembley’s original stadium are visible on either side of the goal posts.

Wembley stadium was built in1923 for the British Empire Exhibition, which took place the following year and as the popularity of spectator sports increased, people flocked there to see there favourite teams and activities.  Eric Fraser designed murals for the British Empire Exhibition and established a successful career as one of the country’s leading illustrative artists. He created many illustrations for the Radio Times, inspired by the sounds and ideas expressed over the airwaves, during a golden age for Radio. He also designed posters for Shell, the General Post Office and the Ministry of information and was well know for inventing a character called Mr Therm for the Gas, Light and Coke Company in 1932.

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

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Project 353 – Learning – Acton High School’s Story

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Acton High School is a close neighbour of the Museum Depot at Acton, just a couple of minutes walk up the Gunnersbury Lane, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it has a long history of supporting the museum. The most recent example was through Project 353’s learning programme.

As Project 353 includes a major restoration project, with strong elements of research, craft skills and reproduction, it seemed natural to involve pupils with an aptitude for Art and Design Technology subjects.

Fifteen year 7 pupils found themselves in Covent Garden and London Transport Museum, with ‘Access All Areas’ for a day and a brief to pull together an exhibition that could be mounted in the school. Those involved from the museum included the Head of Marketing and the Curators of the carriage, posters and exhibitions. They willingly submitted to detailed questioning from the young participants on topics such as exhibition staging, poster design, marketing and curating.  Additionally the activities of the day were filmed by the students, giving them valuable experience and exposure to sophisticated techniques.

A Museum Learning professional then supported the group weekly over 10 weeks within the school. Facilitating workshops where the group created pieces to exhibit. Posters were produced, using a wide range of skills from painting to desktop publishing via collage. A video loop was also created and edited. Finally the whole exhibition was mounted in the foyer of Acton High, where it entertained and educated students and parents over a number of weeks before going on tour to Acton Library on the High Street.

All this hard work deserved a reward, and it came on 13th January this year when the team were invited to travel on 353 as part of the ‘Steam on the Met’ day, forming part of the Underground 150 celebrations. They were delighted to see the carriage in active use in all its glory, and be involved in such a prestigious event.

What about the benefits for Acton High? Simone Stocks, their Community Outreach Manager, told me that the project was a great opportunity to reinforce the school’s relationship with the Museum. The involvement of parents in the foyer exhibition had helped bring in local communities too. The students had been stretched; the museum had treated them as responsible adults, and they responded well to this. The access to experts working in a professional environment was a rare opportunity for many students, and as such an invaluable resource for the school.

Would Simone encourage others to get involved with Project 353’s Learning Programme? “Absolutely, it is so worthwhile, giving rare access to real-life situations for the students.”
The students, in their feedback, highlighted the benefits for them: “Opportunities based on what I’m good at, and a lot of collaboration”; “Good to get involved and have a new experience”; “It was fun and it challenged my learning”.

So I think we can safely say that everyone involved came away appreciating the great opportunity that they’d had and very grateful that they had participated!

Poster of the Week – Gardening by Underground

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Gardening by Underground, Stanislaus S Longley, 1933
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The May Bank Holiday has arrived!  What a great opportunity for some rest and relaxation, and also to enjoy the outdoors, maybe in the garden or local park.

This week’s poster is ‘Gardening by Underground’ by Stanislaus Longley from 1933. Posters like this were used to entice city-dwellers to move to the relative peace and tranquillity of the suburbs.

Longley’s poster shows us how suburban living can be the best of both worlds. With one foot in the bustling, hectic city and another in his beautiful private garden, the man in the poster is living the suburban dream.

London’s suburbs grew around the ever-expanding Underground network. Golders Green became the first Tube suburb when development began in 1907 and was based around the rural terminus of the Hampstead Tube. Extensions to the Piccadilly line in 1932 and 1933 prompted the further expansion of suburbia.

The architect Charles Holden’s futuristic-looking stations sprung up in north and west London to carry passengers into town on the sleek and modern Underground, surrounded by brand new, but traditionally styled, suburban housing. The new suburbs offered spacious homes and private gardens, and proximity to the countryside was also a huge draw.

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Arnos Grove Underground station, designed by Charles Holden (1933)

London’s countryside looks great at this time of year. If you need any inspiration about where to go this bank holiday, why not come and have a look at some of the posters in our exhibition, Poster Art 150? We’re open all weekend! Wherever you decide to spend it, have a great time!

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

Vote Now

Project 353 Community Learning Programme – Introduction

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As part of its celebration of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground and in addition to the wonderful restoration of Metropolitan Jubilee Carriage 353, London Transport Museum is running a series of creative learning projects with community groups across London. These projects support their participants to undertake creative activities, inspired by the carriage and its heritage, which culminate in the display of a public exhibition. As well as discovering London Underground’s unique history and heritage, the volunteers also have the opportunity to undertake a relevant piece of accredited learning through the National Open College Network or Arts Award.

All of the projects are inspired by the history & restoration of Metropolitan Jubilee carriage No. 353 and our volunteers have created a range of interpretative exhibitions based on what they have discovered which have included photographs, story-telling, film, posters, songs and a huge ‘carriage through time’ installation. The exhibitions have enthused local people to find out more about the story of carriage No. 353, London Transport Museum, the 150th anniversary of the London Underground and their own local heritage. The project has been made possible thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and London Transport Museum Friends.

Over the course of the project, the blog will reflect the stories and achievements of some of our participants.