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Seeing it through; woman conductor, by Eric Henri Kennington, 1944

  • Published by London Transport, 1944
  • Printed by The Baynard Press,
  • Dimensions: Width: 552mm, Height: 823
  • Reference number: 1983/4/5688

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London Transport Posters and the Second World War

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London's transport system

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By 1914 the Underground Group ran most of the Tube lines, three tram systems and the main London bus company, the LGOC. The posters publicise all these transport modes. Outside the Underground Group were the Metropolitan Railway and London County Council (LCC) Tramways, which ran separate poster campaigns. All these companies were merged into London Transport (LT) in 1933. The four main line railway companies also used posters to promote their London suburban services. Transport for London (TfL) replaced LT in 2000 with wider responsibility including taxis, streets, river services and some overground rail.
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Staff

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Staff have featured in posters in different ways over time. They have often been included in campaigns to publicise London Transport's commitment to service and customer care. At times of staff shortage, particularly in the 1950s and 60s, there were a large number of recruitment posters, especially for operating staff. During the war many posters were morale boosters, reassuring the staff that they were doing an important job in difficult circumstances.
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Wartime London

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The Underground Group, and later London Transport, produced a wide variety of public information posters during the First (1914-18) and Second (1939-45) World Wars. The majority of wartime posters advised staff and passengers on emergency rules and regulations. Others were more overtly patriotic, often focussing on the valuable war work undertaken by transport employees. Some First World War Underground posters even urged onlookers to enlist with the armed forces. During the Second World War, posters were also used to explain tube 'etiquette' to the vast numbers of war workers and servicemen using the underground for the first time.
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Propaganda

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There was a marked difference between 'propaganda' posters produced by the transport companies during the two wars. Those published by the Underground Group in the Great War (1914-18) presented the conflict as an idealised struggle and urged men to enlist. LT's war posters (1939-45) stressed the individual's role in helping the war effort at home, reinforced with examples from history and the Blitz In both cases, the approach taken reflected the wider poster campaigns of the British government
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War work

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Transport workers were essential to the war effort, especially during the Second World War. Posters celebrating war work were important for staff morale. They also raised awareness of the large number of women undertaking jobs previously done by men. The poster campaigns by Eric Kennington and Fred Taylor were based on photographs of real members of staff.
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