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Fly the Airbus into Heathrow, by unknown artist, 1991

  • Published by London Buses Ltd, 1991
  • Format: Double royal
  • Dimensions: Width: 635mm, Height: 1016mm
  • Reference number: 1991/172

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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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Most London Transport posters illustrate the destination rather than the journey, for obvious reasons. Featuring the mode of transport, whether bus, train or tram, offers less imaginative scope to the artist and has less appeal to the majority of customers other than enthusiasts. With a few exceptions, the posters where road vehicles or railway rolling stock dominate tend to be more literal and lack artistic creativity. The best often make good use of humour and photographic images manipulated into surreal juxtaposition.
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Passenger information

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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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