Stories behind the collection
London Transport Posters and the Second World War
During the Second World War the propaganda function of London Transport posters was resumed. As well as informing passengers and staff of new wartime procedures, posters aspired to lift the spirits of the nation and commemorate the immense contribution made by LT workers at home and abroad.
Many LT Poster campaigns were issued in a series, for maximum impact. Billy Brown of London town, a character created by David Langdon, personified exemplary passenger behaviour in a poster series issued between 1941 and 1945. Fougasse produced a similar series, Rules of conduct, in 1944.
A campaign to ease congestion by staggering working hours was launched by LT in January 1943. When the government introduced compulsory early closing, LT issued posters reinforcing why it was necessary.
Posters were issued to remind staff of the importance of vehicle maintenance, waste management, punctuality and customer service. These were displayed in garages and depots. Posters also celebrated staff contributions to the war effort. Seeing it through, a series by Eric Kennington, depicted portraits of a train driver, woman porter, bus driver, woman bus conductor, policeman and firewoman, to honour their distinguished efforts during the Blitz.
The proud city series by Walter Spradbery was a powerful celebration of London's survival of the Blitz. Each poster depicted an iconic building amidst the ruins of a war-scarred city. The Our heritage series, by Robert Sargent Austin, depicted heroic British Leaders, such as Nelson, Drake, Pitt and Churchill. Posters like this were produced to boost morale within the travelling public, by reminding them what the nation was fighting for.
In 1945, Fred Taylor produced the Rehabilitation series. These posters illustrated the vital work needed to restore LT's services once the war was over.