© london transport museum collection
See Covent Garden's new show, by unknown agency 1980
- Medium: Mixed media
- Dimensions: Width: 544mm, Height: 706mm
- Reference number: 2006/12897
The range of entertainment on offer in London provided countless vibrant and enticing subjects for transport posters. Rather than advertising specific venues or events, posters usually promoted general activities such as shopping or going to the theatre. Many aimed to encourage travel to the city in the evenings and at weekends. Others encouraged regular commuters to stay in the city after work, rather than travelling home at rush hour. In the 1930s, posters were also issued with listings of specific events scheduled for that week.
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Museums & galleries
London Transport posters have promoted travel to almost all of the capital's many museums and galleries. Some advertised the institutions themselves, whilst others promoted special exhibitions. The exotic and eclectic collections offered the poster artist inexhaustible subject matter. Unlike other London attractions, museums and galleries could be represented by subjects and imagery not normally associated with the city, ranging from dinosaurs to ancient Egyptian sculpture.
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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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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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