Christmas holiday arrangements, by Margaret Calkin James, 1936
- Published by London Transport, 1936
- Format: Double royal
- Dimensions: Width: 635mm, Height: 1016mm
- Reference number: 1984/70/16
London's calendar has always been full of public events. These range from large scale annual events and one-off festivals, for which thousands of Londoners take to the streets, to smaller exhibitions held at a variety of specific venues. Transport companies have always taken the opportunity to promote travel to such events through their posters. On public holidays, when there were no scheduled events to promote, posters encouraged Londoners to travel out into the countryside or to explore the city.
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Public holidays meant that less people were commuting. Keen to fill empty seats on buses, trams and the Underground, London Transport used posters to promote the opportunity for leisure travel. Every Easter, Whitsun and August Bank holiday the public were encouraged to take outings to London's surrounding countryside, towns and villages or to explore the delights of the city. At Christmas many posters promoted shopping, while others simply offered their passengers festive greetings.
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London's transport system
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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Giving passengers useful information to help them on their journey has always been a major purpose of posters. The least successful are those that are difficult to read because they rely on too much text or have a confusing layout. To convey an important message quickly a poster should be concise and use a strong visual image but few words. Most London Transport posters are models of clarity but in the 1950s in particular the copywriter seemed to take precedence over the artist and the results often look as cluttered and wordy as Victorian posters with no illustrations had once done.
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