Skip to content

By Lydia Turnbull on

Vintage travel posters—reimagined

Lydia Turnbull shares the exciting news of our new lockdown-themed railway posters.

As the UK continues to face travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the National Railway Museum has reimagined a set of classic railway travel posters from our collection.

Designed to show support for key workers, including those working in the rail industry, the set of 10 popular travel posters features vintage artwork but with new messages which reflect the Government’s travel advice.

They cover scenic travel destinations such as the Norfolk Broads and the Yorkshire coast, the posters invite people to ‘visit when this is all over’ or to ‘visit online’ instead.

London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) poster advertising rail services to the Norfolk Broads. Artwork by Septimus E Scott.
The original LNER Norfolk Broads poster

Originally intended to promote holiday destinations served by railway companies, historic railway posters were often created by well-known artists of the day to entice passengers onboard.

The railways played an important role in the development of mass tourism and in particular the traditional seaside, spa and holiday resorts that we know today. By the middle of the 19th century, the railways could provide quick and inexpensive day trips for thousands of ordinary people based in inland towns and cities. This period saw the growth of excursion trains for working class families (for more details, read historian Susan Major’s blog post).

The boom in the sophistication and use of railway posters continued into the 1920s and 1930s—said by many to be a ‘golden age’ of railway poster design. This included the London & North Eastern Railway’s ‘Quicker By Rail’ campaign which aimed to promote rail travel as competition from other forms of transport began to increase. By the end of the 1930s around 15 million people were going on holiday to the coast.

The National Railway Museum has a collection of 10,700 posters and other railway artwork dating from 1804 to the present day. The collection includes examples from the pre-grouping railway companies, the Big Four, British Railways and items from private operating companies.

Poster produced for British Railways (BR) North Eastern Region to promote rail services to the Yorkshire coast. The poster shows a train travelling on a coastline track, with cliffs and the sea in the background, and a couple with a child walking down to the beach. Artwork by an unknown artist.
The original Yorkshire Coast poster.

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said:

“At a time of widespread travel restrictions, we hope that recreating a selection of the most popular travel posters will enable people to enjoy some of their favourite holiday destinations while celebrating the style and glamour of these works of art. This is also a way for us to show our support for the nation’s keyworkers, including many of the 115,000 railway workers who are continuing to keep things running during this time.

“We hope that these reimagined posters might raise a smile and give people something to look forward to once the lockdown is lifted.”

Great Western Railway poster showing a harbour scene. Artwork by Leonard Richmond
The original Cornwall poster.

Part of the Science Museum Group, the National Railway Museum closed to the public on March 17, as part of government measures to control the spread of coronavirus. Despite temporary closure, the Group’s collection is still available to explore online.

Download our free posters

Click on these links to see the full-size images.

Yorkshire Coast

The Broads

London Pride

Wales

Scotland

London

New Brighton

Northern Ireland

North-East Coast

Cornwall

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *