Poster of the Week: Wimbledon

Wimbledon
Wimbledon, Andrew Power, 1933
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We are midway through another exciting Wimbledon tennis tournament and so this week’s poster is Wimbledon by Andrew Power, the pseudonym of Sybil Andrews. The English born Canadian artist wanted to acknowledge her studio partner Cyril Power to show gratitude for his help in securing her work from London Transport. The poster was produced in 1933 and was one of two that year advertising the Wimbledon Championships with the other poster in a different style in order to appeal to a broad audience.

Wimbledon tennis tournament is the longest running in the world and has been held at the All England Club since 1877. It is one of the four major world tournaments, or grand slams, which offer the highest prize money and ranking points out of all tournaments. Wimbledon is the only major tournament still played on grass, the original playing surface of the game, and attracts the top players from over 60 countries.

Much has changed throughout the tournament’s long history. There were only 200 spectators at the first Wimbledon tournament and tickets were sold for one shilling each. Nowadays there are just shy of half a million spectators each year with the most expensive tickets priced at £130. Accordingly the prize money has also significantly increased. When Billie Jean King won in the 1960s she received a £25 gift voucher, whereas both the male and female winners now receive £1,150,000 each.

The All England Club has also witnessed some dramatic events in its time. During World War II a bomb ripped through Centre Court demolishing 1,200 seats which fortunately had already been vacated.

In recent years the courts hosted the longest tennis match in history. American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut  played for 11 hours and 5 minutes across three days in 2010. The match was won by Isner 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68.

The modernist style of this Wimbledon advertising poster was typical of Sybil Andrews who was internationally acclaimed for her printmaking. She trained in England during the First World War where she specialised in lino cutting, but also contributed to the war effort working as a welder in an aircraft factory. During World War II she worked in the shipyards of Southampton where she also met her future husband with whom she moved to Canada following the war. Here she had a very successful career producing her own works and teaching and passed away at the age of 94 in 1992.

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Poster of the Week: Epping – Central line extension

Epping_blog
Epping – Central line extension, K G Chapman, 1949
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Epping Ongar Railway is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Underground with steam events starting today and running over eight days until 1 July. So today’s poster of the week was designed by K G Chapman in 1949 and is titled Epping – Central line extension.

Epping had long been a popular out-of-town excursion, with Londoners flocking to enjoy the forest by bus and tram. The extension of the electrified Central line services, delayed by the Second World War, offered Londoners easier access to the forest in their leisure time.

The beauty of Epping Forest has been celebrated in over 70 public transport poster designs, which are now stored in London Transport Museum’s Collection.

London’s transport posters were produced to increase passenger numbers on off-peak services. The brightly coloured graphics would have appealed to weekly commuters and encouraged them to travel at weekends and in the evenings. Epping Forest was a popular destination for Londoners to escape the city and one of many destinations promoted in this way.

George Chapman attended Gravesend Art School from 1924 to 1928 where he studied commercial design. In the 1930s he worked for Shell. He attended the Slade School of Art and later, towards the end of the 1930s, the Royal School of Art. Chapman was a printer and printmaker but also designed packaging, including work for Price’s Candles in 1936. He was a member of the Society of Industrial Artists and examples of his work are held by the V&A, Whitworth Art Gallery and the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery.

The initial section of the Central line opened to the public as the Central London Railway (CLR) on 30 July 1900. It ran between Bank and Shepherd’s Bush and had a flat fare of 2d (the equivalent of £0.87 pence today) and was an immediate success.

Two short extensions were opened – west to Wood Lane on 14 May 1908, and east to Liverpool Street on 28 July 1912. Epping and Hainault were opened in stages between 1946 and 1948 and were finally electrified in 1956 but eventually closed in 1994.

The Epping Ongar Railway is London’s only heritage steam railway. It also has a rather quirky distinction of having buffer stops at Ongar form the datum / 0.0km point from which all distances for the whole London Underground network are still measured.

You can find out more about the Tube150 Epping Ongar steam runs at http://eorailway.co.uk/events/tube150

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Poster of the Week: Trooping the Colour

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Trooping the Colour, Margaret Calkin James, 1932
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Trooping the Colour is an annual event which marks the sovereign’s official birthday. The ceremony is thought to have begun in 1748 and in the twentieth century it has been fixed as a June event. This happens irrespective of the sovereign’s actual birthday in the hope that the weather will be better in June than at other times of the year. Although the Queen’s actual birthday was on 21 April, Trooping the Colour takes place this Saturday 15th June at Horse Guards Parade.

The event is a military ceremony, where colours (flags) are carried (or ‘trooped’) down the ranks of assembled soldiers. The idea behind this was originally to ensure that troops would recognise their own battalion’s flag during battle.

The event has traditionally drawn huge crowds and so it features in numerous Underground posters. The colourful spectacle has been an inspiration to several poster designers. In this fine example from our current exhibition, Poster Art 150, artist Margaret Calkin James interprets this historic event in her characteristic style of exaggerated colour with simplified and repeated forms. The arches of Horse Guards Parade can be seen behind the soldiers.

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Dipping a toe in the TfL archives

One of the many benefits of being a London Transport Museum volunteer is that from time to time one gets invited to events that aren’t normally open to the public. Recently the Corporate Archives Unit at Transport for London ran an internal event at 55 Broadway as part of the Underground 150th anniversary celebrations. Invitations were kindly extended to London Transport Museum, who included their volunteers amongst those notified. In all, about ten volunteers attended over the two days that it ran.

After not reading the invitation properly and consequently presenting myself at not just one, but two wrong reception areas I arrived a mere 15 minutes late. However, thanks to the help of a very kind receptionist (or maybe she just took pity on an obvious idiot) I was still able to gain access. 55 Broadway is, of course, an art deco treasure in its own right, but I won’t dwell on that here.

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On arriving at the exhibition I was presented with a guide and spent a very happy hour or more browsing the materials on display. The TfL archives are very large and as a rule are stored deep underground in a Cheshire salt mine which provides the ideal cool and dry environment for preservation of historic documentation. So the displayed material was the tip of the iceberg – and very tantalising it was too. Among my favourites were a staff record book from the Metropolitan and District Railway, dated 1907, and a collection of original track diagrams covering the Circle Line. The former recorded, in meticulous copperplate handwriting, all the information that would be kept in a HR system today, whilst the latter was constructed from the flimsiest pieces of tracing paper, with many crossings out, much glue and tape. It’s a miracle that it has survived.

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All the main aspects of the Underground’s history was covered in a variety of ways, from files of internal memos (speedometers on tube trains took up a lot of management time in 1957) through to a full set of Metropolitan Railway station rubber stamps, presumably for use on tickets. Finally it’s worth mentioning that volunteers play an important part in the work of the unit, being involved in producing guides and indices, and also protecting material.

Dave Olney, Volunteer

Project 353 Community Learning Programme – Accredited Learning

A key objective of Project 353’s Community Learning Programme is the opportunity for group participants to work towards a piece of accredited learning, documenting what they have achieved through their involvement with a 353 community project.

We have supported our volunteers to work towards one of three types of accreditation: The National Open College Network (NOCN) Certificate in Accessing Travel & Transport, The National Open College Network (NOCN) Certificate in Discovering Local History or the Arts Award at Bronze Level.

NOCN Travel & Transport Portfolio

The NOCN Certificate in Accessing Travel & Transport supports learners to understand more about the transport network, to feel confident in route and journey planning and to understand how to travel safely both within Transport for London’s modes and beyond

The NOCN Certificate in Discovering Local History supports learners to discover how local or national events in history – such as the opening of the London Underground 150 years ago – impacted the communities in their local area and to share this knowledge with others.

The Arts Award at Bronze Level is for learners aged 16-25 and supports them to develop a creative skill, share this skill with others and develop confidence in responding to artistic or cultural exhibitions and communicating about cultural, heritage or artistic pieces.

Project 353’s mix of artistic, cultural and historical learning means learners can choose as a group which option to take and the project is moulded to suit their aspirations.

While some learners choose not to undertake accreditation, those that do have found it helps them to articulate what they have achieved to those around them such as teachers, social workers or future employers.

On top of this, learners have expressed a real sense of pride, confidence and ownership in the programme by having their involvement formally recognised.

Poster of the Week: Please Stand on the Right of the Escalator

Fougasse1944
Please Stand on the Right of the Escalator, Fougasse (Cyril Kenneth Bird), 1944
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Renowned for his sharp wit and observational humour, Cyril Kenneth Bird (Fougasse) was one of Britain’s most influential illustrators. His formal art training was by way of evening classes, which he attended alongside completing a degree in Engineering. Severely injured by an explosion in the First World War, and unable to walk for three years, he continued his art lessons by correspondence. In 1916, Punch published his first cartoon, entitled ‘War’s brutalising influence’. He adopted the pseudonym ‘Fougasse’, meaning small unpredictable landmine, which he used for all subsequent work.

The Second World War marked an increase in newcomers to London, many of whom were unused to Underground travel and the behaviours that, while familiar to regular users, were strangely confusing to the uninitiated. A code of conduct helped to keep passengers safe and services running smoothly. Fougasse’s wry observations and comic style were a refreshing antidote to the more strident tone of government wartime notices of the period.

Fougasse produced a number of public information posters for London Transport between 1925 and 1945. This poster is one in a series called ‘Rules of conduct’ and instructs passengers to ‘stand on the right of the escalator’ – one of the numerous slogans that were to become part of an emerging Underground etiquette.

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A Happy Museum? Of Course!

Museums are not just about their contents, important though the exhibits are. It’s increasingly recognised that museums have an important part to play in the well-being of people generally, and not just that of their normal visitors. London Transport Museum keenly supports this view and is working to develop its services in less conventional ways. Indeed its very successful volunteer programme is an excellent example of an activity that benefits both the museum and the individual.

Hence the “Happy Museum”: a programme that has been developed with a number of other museums (such as the Godalming Museum and the Story Museum, Oxford) to explore the opportunity for increased sustainability through wider and deeper engagement with all potential audiences. Funding for the “Happy Museum” has been provided by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England, amongst others. One result of LTM’s engagement with the “Happy Museum” has been a project with St. Mungo’s, the homelessness charity, aiming to help excluded people engage positively with society.

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A number of potential volunteers for the project were identified by St. Mungo’s, and they met with LTM staff at an Open Day in late 2012. As a result a group of St Mungo’s clients have been engaged in voluntary work at the museum, working closely with the curators. I met Chris Daniels at the Acton Depot one day recently, where he was busy cleaning a train of 1938 tube stock inside and out in preparation for the Acton Open Weekend. Chris also volunteers with St Mungo’s itself, and has been busy gardening; he confided in me that he was very glad to be working indoors on this particular (very cold) day. So was I!

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Chris told me that he had enjoyed his 3 months volunteering with LTM, and had been involved in bus cleaning as well for the open weekend.  Although his working life had been in the water industry, he has always liked transport. In his own words, “I’ve enjoyed working here as volunteering people are family. It helps my state of mind, and it’s nice to meet other people.” A sentiment that I think many volunteers would echo.

Dave Olney, Volunteer