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Literary threads

© london transport museum collection
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Photographic reproduction - not available to buy

Literary threads, by Richard Owsley, Adrianna Cerne, Nick Johnson, lena Nian, Helen Watkins, Ruth Wolf, Eric Reeve, 2005

  • Published by Transport for London, 2005
  • Commissioned by Platform for Art
  • Format: Double royal
  • Dimensions: Width: 635mm, Height: 1016mm
  • Reference number: 2005/15832

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Platform for Art

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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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A wide variety of exhibitions in London have been promoted by posters. They range from large annual events, such as the Motor Show at Olympia, to cattle and dairy shows at Royal Agricultural Hall. Exhibitions have also been held in Underground stations. From the late 1920s to the mid 1960s, a variety of exhibitions were held in the booking hall at Charing Cross (now Embankment). Since 2000, Platform for Art has also exhibited work at stations, particularly on their designated platform at Gloucester Road.
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From its first pictorial poster in 1908, the Underground and then London Transport have promoted sightseeing in the capital. Posters encouraged visitors and Londoners alike to either take a conducted tour or to explore the city themselves. Well known landmarks such as Nelson's Column and Buckingham Palace featured the most frequently, although lesser known places of interest were also publicised. Many posters focused on a specific sight, others simply encouraged visitors to 'See London by coach' or 'See London in summer'. Green line coach and country bus services allowed sightseeing to extend beyond the city.
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Literature & history

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Many sightseeing destinations in London have been promoted for their historic or literary associations. Posters depicted famous figures connected with towns or buildings as a way of encouraging passengers to visit them. These ranged from former Kings and Queens being used to promote associated royal palaces, to the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin being used to encourage travel to Hounslow Heath.
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