© london transport museum collection
150 years of London buses, by Mike Ingham, 1979
- Medium: Pen and ink
- Dimensions: Width: 798mm, Height: 545mm
- Reference number: 2006/12899
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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Posters were often issued to mark significant anniversaries in the history of London's transport. These include the opening of Underground lines and stations, as well as the start of London bus services. Occasionally, other historical anniversaries were remembered in posters, such as the Fire of London. From the late 1950s to the mid 1970s, centenary posters were issued annually to commemorate the lives of interesting people associated with London.
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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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