Poster of the Week: European Swimming Championships

SwimmingChampionships
European Swimming Championships, artist unknown, 1938
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As the one year anniversary of Britain’s Olympic golden summer comes around, we can all bask in the memory of such a fantastic sporting occasion. This 1938 poster publicised another exciting sporting event: the European Swimming Championships in Wembley.

First held in 1926, the Championships were, and still are, deemed one of the most prestigious international swimming events. In 1938 Britain unfortunately faltered, only achieving one gold medal and finishing fifth out of eight.

Nonetheless, the competition had suitably impressive surroundings. Built in 1933, Empire Pool was the largest indoor pool in the world and came complete with underwater illumination and space for 4000 spectators.

It famously hosted the 1948 London Olympic Games swimming events, but soon after was closed down as a swimming pool. It reopened in 1978, but this time as entertainment venue Wembley Arena. Unbeknownst to revellers today, they are sitting on top of an Olympic sized swimming pool that still exists underneath their feet.

The poster is indicative of the increasingly clever photography of 1930s poster designers. The two-colour panel poster creates a three-dimensional effect as the diver elegantly glides into the water. The simplistic design focuses attention onto the diver, who is a model of athletic prowess. Her costume stands out in vibrant green as a stark contrast to the white background.

Many posters depicting sporting events were of a smaller size, in order to be used in Underground carriages. Such a simple, but striking design was perfect for enticing the glance of the passenger while they travelled.

A centre for popular British sporting events, London Transport’s marketers regularly saw the opportunity to increase their ticket sales by compelling thousands of Londoners to use their handy services to reach Wembley. As well as advertising the Swimming Championships, they frequently publicised football matches at the nearby stadium.

Written by Willliam Cooper

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Poster of the Week: Hearing the Riches of London

hearingtheriches
Hearing the Riches of London, Frederick Charles Herrick, 1927
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As our lovely art deco tube train is due for an outing on the Underground network this weekend, we are featuring one of the art deco gems from our poster collection with its rich colours and decorative style. Hearing the Riches of London by Frederick Charles Herrick was produced in 1927 as part of a set of posters each representing a difference sense through which the riches of London can be experienced. The set, all designed by Herrick, promotes the sensory delights of London through touch, sight, taste, smell and in this poster, hearing. As a nod to London Underground, the woman’s hairclips are based on the infamous Roundel logo, and the arc across the centre of the poster features imagery representing the variety of music available in London. The poster is still culturally relevant for London today as it remains a key city in the international music scene, although the current genres are slightly broader than in the 1920s!

Herrick designed in the region of 50 posters for London Underground between 1920 and 1933 and four of his other beautiful designs also feature in the Poster Art 150 exhibition. He was born in 1887 and trained at the Leicester School of Art, followed by further training at the prestigious Royal College of Art. Herrick was a leading graphic artist and was well known in his own lifetime. As well as producing his own work he was also a teacher in Brighton, specialising in mural work, and also at the Royal College of Art.

His imagery was well known not only through his work with London Underground but with London Transport in general as well as the London General Omnibus Co and other highly visible public organisations. Perhaps his mostly widely seen work was his lion design produced for the Wembley British Empire Exhibition of 1924 and 1925. There were 27 million visitors to the actual exhibition and subsequently the design was also featured on various souvenirs including Wedgwood china.

Following this commission he produced imagery for the Empire Marketing Board between 1926 and 1933 which was set up to promote trade between countries within the British Empire. Working and teaching until his later years, he died in 1970.

A chance to view and travel on our art deco train this weekend has proved so popular that it is now sold out, but do keep checking back to our Vehicles on the Move page for opportunities later in the year to ride the Underground on our steam train or our long serving 1938 tube stock.

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A first for the City of London tradition of cart marking

(Left to Right) Mike Brown MVO MD of London Underground, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, London Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy, Master Carman Neil Coles (c) TfL
(Left to Right) Mike Brown MVO MD of London Underground, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, London Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy, Master Carman Neil Coles © TfL

The centuries-old City of London tradition of ‘cart marking’, usually reserved for road vehicles, went underground on Wednesday 17 July when London Transport Museum’s 1892 Metropolitan Railway ‘Jubilee’ Carriage No. 353 was ‘marked’ by Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE and the Master Carman, Neil Coles.  The ceremony was watched by Sir Peter Hendy CBE, London’s Transport Commissioner, and Mike Brown MVO, Managing Director of London Underground and London Rail.

Organised by the Worshipful Company of Carmen, a livery company of the City of London, the ceremony usually involves marking a vehicle with a branding iron and most often takes place on the forecourt of the Guildhall in the heart of the City.

The tradition dates back over 500 years when all carts and carriages plying trade within the ‘Square Mile’ of London had to be licensed to operate within the City limits. The licence took the form of a branded mark applied directly to the vehicle.

This year, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, the role of the City of London in the financing and building of the Metropolitan Railway (the world’s first underground railway) and the important role that Underground travel plays in the life of the City, the Worshipful Company of Carmen took the unusual step of including a rail vehicle in the ceremony – a first in the event’s history.  As the vehicle could not get inside the Guildhall forecourt, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE and the Master Carman, Neil Coles, took a branded plaque to the carriage at Mansion House Station.

The ceremony took place on Platform 2 of the station and the carriage was on display for five hours between 11.00 and 16.00, giving the public a chance to admire the quality of the recent restoration, which was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Also in attendance at the event was Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s London Committee and Museum Director Sam Mullins.

A Big Day at the Depot – Part Two

Inevitably there was so much going on at the recent Acton Depot open day that I couldn’t fit it all in  to one post. Last time I covered the “outdoor” activity, so now it’s time to move indoors. A popular feature of the open days is that many activities are laid on, both to bring the exhibits to life and also provide the opportunity for visitors of all ages to interact with the exhibits and people who know a bit about them. Often this can work both ways, as inevitably some visitors are able to add to the understanding of a particular object or its history.

Readers of this blog will know by now that object handling is always a popular activity at the Covent Garden site, so it’s no surprise that it also featured at the open day. Over the course of the Sunday I found various volunteers such as Ash Ketchum and Peter Brown helping out at the object handling stall, Gibson ticket machines racing away.

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I have blogged previously on the work of the signals team in restoring old Underground signalling control panels. The value of their painstaking work was brought home to me by the amount of interest in their work at the open day. It would be no exaggeration to say that they were besieged by interested visitors at times through the day, as can be seen in the photos. Somewhere in the scrum is Peter Smith, explaining the finer points of the Elephant and Castle station control panel.

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It’s always great to see the sheer variety of people that attend the open days. The cloakroom is always well-used, and I think the number of buggies shows just how many children were present. A demonstration to the contribution of the museum’s volunteers to the open days is the fact that there were some 14 different activities that they were responsible for over the course of the day, not to mention the activity of your humble scribe – although whether I contributed to anyone’s enjoyment might be a moot point!

Dave Olney, Volunteer

A Big Day at the Depot – Part One

Open Weekends at the Acton Depot of the LTM –  held twice a year, they are a fabulous opportunity for the public to see “behind the scenes” of the Museum. It would be true to say that the vast majority of the museum’s collection is actually held at Acton. To some extent this is down to space available in the main Covent Garden building; there are also considerations of restoration, preparation and overhaul of exhibits, all of which are done at the Depot. So it’s a treasure trove!

As the sharper-eyed amongst you may have spotted, this year is the 150th anniversary of the opening of the world’s first underground railway, from Edgware Road to Farringdon. Inevitably this meant that the open weekend had an “Underground 150” theme. In the yard at the rear of the Depot could be found Metropolitan Railway No. 1, stationary but in steam, together with recently restored Metropolitan Carriage No. 353 and a milk van. Joining No. 1 on a short stretch of 1 foot 11½ inches gauge track laid especially for the event was Ffestiniog Railway steam loco number 2 “Prince” providing engine rides.

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Depot Open Days could not function without a tremendous amount of support from the museum’s volunteers. Many of them were to be found in the yard helping with stewarding the huge numbers of visitors wanting to get “up close and personal” with the special displays. My photos were taken on the Sunday of the event, which was busy enough, but I’m told that the Saturday was the busiest open day ever.

You can also see that Metropolitan Electric Loco No. 12 ”Sarah Siddons” was on display, and while not as popular as the steam locos the opportunity to visit the driver’s cab was still quite a draw. Again, volunteers were to the fore in helping the public get the best from their visit.

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Finally, as part of the 150 theme, a number of London-themed model railway layouts were on display. Who would have thought it would be possible to model Metropolitan No. 1 or “standard” tube stock so accurately from the ubiquitous bricks?

Dave Olney, Volunteer

Poster of the Week: To Summer Sales by Underground

SummerSales_blog
To summer sales by Underground, Horace Taylor, 1926
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Summer is finally here and London is bathed in sunshine and bustling with shoppers eager to snap up a bargain. This week’s poster was created in 1926 to advertise the Summer Sales as a destination that could be reached by Underground. The Artist Horace Taylor started his career as a stage designer and cartoonist for the Manchester Guardian. As a commercial artist he went on to design a number of posters for the Underground Group between 1924 and 1926.

The bold flat colours and simple outlines of this striking image still grabs your attention and convey a sense of modernity and style. The poster was aimed at women shopping in the West End at a time when they were increasingly seen as an important market for advertisers. The vivid yellows, bright oranges and bold prints in this design, catch the eye and reflect the summer’s seasonal trends. Fashion became increasingly attainable with the development of new fabrics such as rayon (man-made silk.) Stores would often offer other luxury services such as hairdressers and tea rooms, which transformed shopping from a menial task to an enjoyable day out. The roof of one of London’s most famous department stores is said to have hosted a terraced garden, cafes, a mini golf course and even an all-girl gun club.

As shopping developed from a necessity to a popular leisure activity, many women found public transport offered them a degree of flexibility and the freedom to ‘shop til they dropped’. For the Underground Group posters provided the opportunity to increase passenger numbers during off peak hours. Today London is at the forefront of fashion design and retail enticing thousands of fashionistas to the sales every summer.

Chloe Taylor, Trainee Curator

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Poster of the Week: Bicyclism – The Art of Wheeling

Bicyclism
Bicyclism – the art of wheeling, Austin Cooper, 1928
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The 100th edition of the Tour de France is currently underway, with two more weeks of exciting action still to come before the finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

This week we’re celebrating this historic race with a very different kind of bike to the lightweight super aerodynamic machines today’s riders use. Instead, Austin Cooper’s 1928 poster takes a nostalgic look at the ‘penny-farthing’ or ‘high wheel’ bicycle, popular in the late Victorian era.

The penny-farthing’s design followed on from the ‘boneshaker’, the first popular and commercially viable bicycle with pedals. The large front wheel of the penny-farthing enabled greater speeds in a time before gears had been added to bikes. The big wheel on the front also led to a smoother journey over cobbled streets, before bikes featured pneumatic tyres. However, the penny-farthing was not without its dangers and was soon replaced by the safety bicycle, launched in the 1880s and featuring a chain driven back wheel. From here on, the bike became a popular, safe and affordable means of travel for men and women.

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Golders Green bicycle store, around 1925

Austin Cooper’s career as a commercial artist began in Montreal, Canada.  He moved to London after the First World War. In 1922 he received the first of many poster commissions from London Underground, becoming one of Britain’s leading poster designers. Cooper published a book about poster design in 1939, ‘Making a Poster’ and once said that ‘The functions of a poster are dual: to arrest the attention and then, having caught the eye of the passer-by, to deliver a message swiftly, convincingly, effectively.’

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Project 353 Community Learning Programme – An Exciting New Way of Working

In response to feedback from community organisations, Project 353 has introduced a new way of working with our Community Learning Partners – the two day model.

This model allows more flexibility for Community Partners and Participants, fitting in with the activities or groups they already support without putting pressure on their capacity. As with our longer term learning opportunities, all of the projects are inspired by the history & restoration of Metropolitan Railway Jubilee carriage No. 353 and our volunteers will create craft or artistic pieces related to it. The volunteers also have the opportunity to undertake a relevant piece of accredited learning through the National Open College Network or Arts Award.

These projects will be mainly focussed on communities in west London who are under-represented in museums and heritage. Their projects will take place over the summer and will include activities such as story-telling and collecting, mural making and digital arts.

Once all of the two-day projects are complete, the pieces will be curated into a joint community exhibition celebrating their achievements and will tour each of their local areas – so watch this space for further details of both the projects as they begin and to see the work exhibited!

Project 353 Artwork being created by young learners
Project 353 Artwork being created by young learners