Posters by Royal Academicians and other eminent Artists. With an appreciation by Sir Martin Conway MP. London Midland and Scottish Railway [ebook]


Booklet, stiff card coloured covers , cord bound, 9.5”x 8”, unpaginated, pp. Text 10, colour plates 18, each interleaved with protective tissue.


This is one of the most beautifully produced works in the collection. Until the dead hand of Sir Josiah Stamp, his economists, the ER0 and a policy of what was (I believe, by the late Pat Whitehouse) described as “retrenchment and despair” set in, the LMS produced some strikingly attractive publications, particularly posters. After the late 1920s, while the quality of posters was largely maintained, other printed material often gave the impression of being “penny pinched” – interiors being spoiled by cheap covers, sometimes printed on little better than wrapping paper.

In March 1923, T. C. Jeffrey, the former Midland Railway Superintendent of Advertising, was appointed LMS Superintendent of Advertising and Publicity, so as with so many thngs in the first years of the new company, under the aggressive chairmanship of Sir Guy Granet, Midland methods and style held sway. One of the few visible attempts at producing a “Corporate Identity” was the introduction of some strangely designed “standard” station nameboards which soon ceased to be installed as station maintenance budgets were slashed. A positive move was the commissioning of three posters from the renowned artist Norman Wilkinson beginning a fruitful relationship which would last almost until the end of the company’s life. Wilkinson, (24 November 1878 – 31 May 1971) was never actually on the payroll as such, but acted as a kind of “artist in residence” for publicity material, producing around a hundred poster designs himself, and recommending other artists. His first railway work was actually for the London & North Western, depicting their Irish Sea steamers. Recognised as probably the leading marine artist of his time, his versatility ranged from romantic Highland landscapes (see cover of this booklet) ro grim industrial scenes like his poster publicising the LMS owned docks at Grangemouth. During the Great War Wilkinson invented the system of “dazzle painting” ships, making it difficult for submarines to judge their course and speed. For this work he was made CBE.

It was Wilkinson’s initiative to commission leading artists, not normally associated with poster design and to hold exhibitions of poster designs which not only engaged the favourable attention of art critics like Sir Martin Conway, but gained such favourable publicity that a considerable public demand grew to by copies of the posters. Grieffenhagens “Carlisle” for example, was still being reprinted 10 years later, long after it had ceased to be displayed on stations.

This useful source of revenue subsidised the commissioning and printing of posters throughout the depression and up to the outbreak of WW II.

Sir Martin Conway was one of those remarkably versatile men, thrown up by the advance of science, the arts and literature during the later 19th century. In his 20s he published his first book – on the subject of medieval woodcuts and went on to become Slade Professor of FineArt ar Cambridge, a pioneering mountaineer, a founder of the Alpine Society, and an explorer and map maker. He went into politics with the clear objective of getting a title, flirting first with the Conservatives, then the Liberals, but his K. was awarded in recognition of his work as an explorer. After sitting for some years as a Liberal Unionist he was raised to the peerage as Baron Allington in Lloyd George’s disolution honours in 1918. He was the first Director of the Imperial War Museum.



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