Category Archives: Exhibitions

The wheels of war

fww - 1st buses
The first London buses to arrive in France, September 1914

A specific chain of events led to the outbreak of war in 1914, but the international tensions behind it had been building for many years. As early as 1908 the army had tested the suitability of London buses for troop transport. It was recognised that reliable motor vehicles would be crucial in any future war, as horses had been in earlier conflicts. In 1912, the government assessed a range of commercial motor vehicles for potential military service, and came to an arrangement known as the Subsidy Scheme; in the event of war the government would pay civilian businesses for their lorries and buses. The London General Omnibus Company (LGOC), was one of the biggest contributors to the scheme.

fww - ambulances
LGOC buses converted to ambulances, 1914

On 1 August, 30 of the LGOC’s new B-type buses were requisitioned, and converted into ambulances on the home front. In September the first buses went to France as part of a hastily arranged Royal Naval Division mission to relieve parts of Belgium. Some arrived with their original destination boards and adverts still intact. Soon afterwards the first of the green Army Service Corps B-type buses arrived, followed by hundreds more buses and their drivers, mobilised to transport troops and supplies to and from the trenches of the Western Front for the next four years.

Find out more about London buses at war and the effects of the conflict at home at our current exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly: From Home Front to Western Front

Advertisements

The Day Before the War

image 1
Underground Day, Charles Sharland, 1914

The brightly coloured poster above by Charles Sharland was issued to promote the August bank holiday of 1914. It declares 3 August as ‘Underground day’ and encourages passengers to make their choice of what to do and where to go from the many destinations available by tube and bus.

However, when the day came, festivities were overshadowed by the threat of Britain becoming involved in the war on the Continent. By the end of the following day, on 4 August 1914, Britain had declared war on Germany.

image 2
Bank Holiday, artist unknown, 1919

The poster for the 1919 bank holiday reflects on the changed circumstances. The ‘short’ war had turned into a four year conflict with millions of lives lost, and many more changed forever. For the first time there had been a home front, with Londoners at risk from aerial bombardment.

The subdued design gently invites passengers to enjoy holidays once more. The emphasis of the trains, buses and trams being at the service of Londoners reminds us of the important role that London transport staff and vehicles played in the war.

Did you know: Originally the bank holiday in August was the first Monday of the month, as dictated by the Bank Holiday Act (1871). This was until the Banking and Financial Dealings Act (1971) decreed a century later that it would fall, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, on the last Monday of the month. Why? One suggestion was that as the latter half of August is cooler the roads would be less busy with the crowds that thronged to the seaside, getting drunk and causing all sorts of mid-Summer mischief!

Find out more about London and World War 1 at London Transport Museum’s current exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly: From Homefront to Western Front

Posters and Propaganda

To tie in with our First World War Exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly we’ve focused our current Poster Parade on the use of Propaganda in posters, specifically those used on the Homefront. The 20 posters featured reflect advertising campaigns during both the First and Second World Wars.

The term ‘propaganda’ is not easy to define and all of the posters featured can be interpreted differently. Propaganda messages during this time were included, often surreptitiously, in advertising and other public messages.. At the beginning of the First World War, we can identify an emphasis on encouraging leisure travel and shopping. During the Second World War, we see greater use of patriotic and politically charged imagery. Posters also served to boost morale and provide safety information to the general public. However propaganda is defined, the posters produced in wartime were designed to influence thoughts and promote specific action.

they shout for joy
They shout for joy, they also sing – Flags of Allied Nations, 1944, Austin Cooper

Austin Cooper, a Canadian born artist, moved to London in 1922 and began producing posters for London Transport. Cooper is mainly known for his colourful, abstract style and in the pre-war years produced posters promoting travel by underground to places of heritage and the museums in South Kensington (http://tinyurl.com/cnspj9)

The poster‘They shout for joy, they also sing – Flags of Allied Nations’ (1944) is strikingly different to his other works. The central flags of The Republic of China, The United States of America, The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) and Great Britain represent the super powers of the time. The white star and blue background at the top of the poster is reminiscent of the League of Nations, which was formed after the First World War. Is its inclusion intended as a symbol of unity?

Austincooperflags

We had difficulty identifying all of the flags, but fortunately Cooper designed a key to illustrate them!

If you want to learn more about propaganda posters during the First World War, why not attend the talk by David Bownes, Assistant Director of Collections at the National Army Museum, at London Transport Museum on Tuesday 2 September.

Written by Hayley Jedrzejewski, Collections Assistant

Goodbye Piccadilly: World War 1 Facts

[envira-gallery id=”4250″]

The B-type bus was surprisingly easy to adapt for military use. Many buses were used to transport troops into battle. However the London bus chassis was versatile and could be adapted into a range of specialised vehicles, from ambulances and messenger pigeon lofts to anti-aircraft gun carriages and freight lorries.

web-sidepanel-batlebus

WE’RE CROWDFUNDING!

Can you help get ‘Battle Bus’ to the Western Front? You can get involved and back the project for free by becoming a project Cheerleader and sharing it with friends and family or make a pledge from as little as £20 and in return for your support you’ll receive some exciting and unique rewards!

Find out more: www.ltmuseum.co.uk/battlebus

Navigating Eros in 1919

1  1998-88554 Piccadilly Circus traffic scene dominated by B-type buses. Copyright TfL.
Piccadilly Circus, 1919. In the background the Pathé film, J’accuse, directed by the influential filmmaker Abel Gance (1889–1981) is showing at the Pavilion. It was a spectacular success throughout Europe, using innovative filming and editing techniques and real soldiers as actors.

Recently we’ve received a great deal of feedback on the photograph above which seems to show buses ‘circling’ Eros in Piccadilly Circus the wrong way.

Our Curators were as intrigued as you and decided to take a closer look. Upon further investigation it became apparent that the size and layout of the island in the middle of Piccadilly Circus  – not to be confused with a traditional roundabout – has changed several times since Eros was unveiled in 1893. Before the Second World War there was a more complicated road layout with two-way traffic (in 1919 there were not enough vehicles on the road to warrant traffic lights!). In the photograph this gives the illusion of traffic moving the ‘wrong’ way around a roundabout.

Goodbye Piccadilly: Florence Cordell’s Story

florenceCordell
Florence Cordell in 1916

Florence Cordell was one of the first women to work as a bus conductor in Britain. She, along with hundreds of other women, worked as a ‘conductorette’ for LGOC during the First World War, replacing the men who had left their jobs for war service. Before the war, Cordell worked for Faraday and Son making luxury lampshades but as fighting  continued it became clear that such luxuries were no longer appropriate and she knew her job was in jeopardy.

In 1916 Cordell began training as a bus conductor, taking medical, IQ and maths tests to determine her suitability. She was based at varying locations including Willesden, Twickenham, Turnham Green and Highgate Archway garages. Women conductors earned five shillings a week less than men and they went on strike to demand equal pay.

As with all women who worked on the buses during the war, the end of the fighting in 1918 meant Cordell lost her job as she was replaced by the returning men.

Florence Cordell’s story features in our Goodbye Piccadilly: From Home Front to Western Front exhibition, on until 8 March 2015.

TELL YOUR STORY

If you have any personal family stories, photographs, mementoes, medals, letters or diaries that you would like to share with us then we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at collections@ltmuseum.co.uk

web-sidepanel-batlebus

WE’RE CROWDFUNDING!

Can you help get ‘Battle Bus’ to the Western Front? You can get involved and back the project for free by becoming a project Cheerleader and sharing it with friends and family or make a pledge from as little as £20 and in return for your support you’ll receive some exciting and unique rewards!

Find out more: www.ltmuseum.co.uk/battlebus

Poster Parade – I Love London

summeroutings_posterparade
Summer outings by private bus, Verney L Danvers (1925)

This year London Transport Museum is celebrating the Year of The Bus and to mark the centenary of the First World War the Museum is restoring one of the last surviving B-type buses. At the beginning of the War over 1000 operational B-type London buses were commandeered for transporting troops to and from the Western Front. They were also used as ambulances on the front line and even as a mobile pigeon lofts. Once restored to full working order, our Battle Bus will act as the centrepiece for a programme of commemorative events and displays.

Our latest Poster Parade I Love London features 20 posters specially chosen by staff here at the Museum that demonstrate what they love about living and working in London. Included in the poster parade is Summer outings by private bus by Verney L Danvers (1925).

In order to maximise profits at weekends from the late 1920s up until the early 1960s London transport offered many of their vehicles for private hire at a fee. Often these busses were hired out for leisure to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and venture out into the country.

This delightful poster was designed at a time when London’s population was continuing to grow in the early decades of the 20th century and the city expanded rapidly through suburban development at the outskirts of London and into the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex and Surrey.

Time to indulge in leisure activities was becoming more widely available, not least day trips to the beautiful London countryside of the Home Counties. In London days out by bus were promoted by the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) and included private bus hire as illustrated in the poster.

The excursionists are wearing their Sunday best outfits ready to enjoy a delicious picnic in the bucolic setting of a bluebell wood. Country walks were marketed as a healthy antidote to a week spent in an office or factory. Longer distance ‘rambling’ became particularly popular during the interwar years. The shadows on the pathway show that it is a brilliant sunny day and the image communicates blissful tranquillity and leisure, giving no hint of the undercurrents of the famous General Strike which took place the following year.

derby

The London bus companies also laid on transport for the thousands of Londoners who went to the Epsom Derby every year. Buses hired out for use at The Epsom Derby, June 1931 showing people sitting eating at a table on board the top deck of B-type bus.

daydrip derby

The Underground Group also organised many such trips on buses and trains to take children all over London.  The charitable outings, often for underprivileged London children, also generated positive publicity for the transport services.

Children’s outing arranged by Dalston bus garage, here the K-type motor buses have been hired out for an underprivileged children’s outing on 17th of August 1927.

Private hire children

Post written by Chloe Eden Winter Taylor, Assistant Curator

Poster Art 150: And the Winner is…

Brightest London is best reached by Underground, Horace Taylor, 1924

basket Buy Brightest London Poster

The results are in and the public have decided that the best London Underground poster of all time is Brightest London is best reached by Underground, designed by Horace Taylor in 1924.

Over 42,000 people voted in the Siemens Poster Vote, choosing from 150 posters that featured in our exhibition Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs.

Brightest London drew 1752 of the votes with London Zoo by Abram Games (1976) and Underground – the way for all by Alfred France (1911) – securing 1614 and 1342 votes respectively.

LondonZooAbramGames
London Zoo, Abram Games, 1976 © Estate of Abram Games
4-Underground; the way for all
Underground – the way for all, Alfred France, 1911

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

basket Buy London Zoo Poster
basket Buy Underground – the Way for All Poster

The winning poster was created when cinemas still showed black and white films; vibrant posters like this splashed colour into 1920s London. The Underground is presented as bright, popular and extremely fashionable with a very smart crowd heading out for a night on the town. Still vibrant almost 90 years after it first brightened Underground stations, it is easy to imagine how effective it must have been at the time. The artist’s granddaughter once explained that Taylor often liked to paint himself into his posters. In this one he is the gentleman with the top hat and the beard on the middle escalator.

The Poster Art 150 exhibition opened on 15 February 2013 and was due to close in October but was extended until 5 January 2014 due to popular demand. It formed part of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground celebrations and featured posters by many famous artists including Edward McKnight Kauffer, Man Ray and Paul Nash, and designs from each decade over the last 100 years. Information about some of the posters featured in the exhibition can be found on this blog.

The posters were selected from the Museum’s archive of over 3,300 Underground posters by a panel of experts; the 150 that appeared in the exhibition show the range and depth of the Museum’s collection.

Director of London Transport Museum, Sam Mullins, said “The number of votes for Brightest London is impressive given the public had a large selection from which to choose.  We’re delighted that so many people participated in the Siemens Poster Vote which reinforces the view that our poster collection is one of the best loved collections of graphic art in the world.”

Siemens Rail Systems UK Managing Director, Steve Scrimshaw, said “We were proud to be part of the 150th anniversary of London Underground, and have been delighted by the success of the Siemens Poster Vote, it has really captured people’s imaginations.  It is fascinating to see how design has changed over the last 150 years – we have many engineers who are passionate about design, maybe Poster Art 150 has given them some new ideas!”

Poster of the Week: Poster Art 150

posterart150

Poster Art 150 (Old East London Line Top) Brightest London, 2013

Vote for your Favourite Poster

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is. There’s now only a few days left to see our Poster Art 150 exhibition – so come along before 5 January and don’tforget to vote for your favourite!

Vote Now

This poster is one of six designed as a series to promote London Transport Museum’s fantastic exhibition, Poster Art 150 exhibition – London Underground’s Greatest Designs, a key part of the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the world’s first  Underground railway. Each poster comprises ‘teaser’ elements of some of the poster designs to be found in the exhibition. To help bring more clarity to the selection of images, the exhibition has six themes, Finding The Way, Capital Culture, Away From It All, Keeps London Going, Love Your City, and this poster depicting my favourite exhibition grouping, Brightest London.

The poster has been very cleverly designed by the Museum’s Head of Design, Sau-Fun Mo,  and fully represents the largely Art Deco flavour of this exhibition theme, without giving any substantive view of the posters on display. Highly colourful, it attracts attention and subliminally invites people to visit. As is often the case with such intelligently designed posters, the image has been a commercial success; Poster art can still attract great attention as well as function as exemplary marketing. Long may this survive.,. This poster and the other five in the series  can be purchased at our Covent Garden shop and also online – along with other exhibition themed gifts.

There are only a couple of days left to see the  Poster Art 150 exhibition as the last day is Sunday 5 January 2014. You can vote for your favourite in the Siemen’s Poster Vote until midnight the same day. We’ll be announcing the winning poster the following week.

Have you voted for your favourite poster yet?

Vote Now

Poster of the Week: Theatre – go by Underground

 Blog_TheatregobyUnderground
Theatre – go by Underground, Barnett Freedman, 1936

Vote for your Favourite Poster

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is. Is it this one? Let us know by voting now!

Vote Now

Have you been to a pantomime this festive season? Or perhaps you have been to see a play. This lovely pair of posters by Barnett Freedman would have encouraged Underground passengers from the 1930s to head to the theatre for entertainment.

Each poster works just as effectively on its own as it does in a pair, with the Underground roundel logo on the left poster enough to indicate that the Underground is the best way to get to the theatre. The posters were sometimes displayed together, and sometimes separately, as the two photos below show.

Putney Bridge Station, January 1937
Putney Bridge Station, 1937

Westminster station
Westminster Station, 1936

Up close, the posters show Freedman’s mastery as an auto-lithographer. Auto-lithography is when an artist draws directly onto the lithographic plates or stones themselves, rather than let the litho-craftsmen at the printers adapt their original artwork. This poster shows Freedman’s innovative use of this technique to create unique textures in the poster. Barnett Freedman was a pioneer in the revival of colour lithography and he illustrated numerous literary works as well as designing publicity for Shell, the BBC and the General Post Office and Ealing Films.

It’s almost the final week of our Poster Art 150 exhibition – so come along and marvel at Freedman’s craftsmanship before 5 January. And don’t forget to vote for your favourite!

Have you voted for your favourite poster yet?

Vote Now