Billy Brown of London Town 'Face the driver, raise your hand', by David Langdon, 1941
- Published by London Transport, 1941
- Printed by The Baynard Press, 1941
- Format: Panel poster
- Stylistic approach: Cartoon
- Dimensions: Width: 204 mm, Height: 572mm
- Reference number: 1983/4/10479
> Wartime London
The Underground Group, and later London Transport, produced a wide variety of public information posters during the First (1914-18) and Second (1939-45) World Wars.
The majority of wartime posters advised staff and passengers on emergency rules and regulations. Others were more overtly patriotic, often focussing on the valuable war work undertaken by transport employees. Some First World War Underground posters even urged onlookers to enlist with the armed forces.
During the Second World War, posters were also used to explain tube 'etiquette' to the vast numbers of war workers and servicemen using the underground for the first time.
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Second world war
LT's war posters used modern design to convey essential information to passengers and staff. Thoughtful passenger behaviour was encouraged in the humorous cartoons of Fougasse and David Langdon. More direct appeals for co-operation, or advice on sheltering and the 'blackout' were expressed in easy to read layouts.
Other posters celebrated LT's contribution to the war effort and London's resilience. These included the striking series of images produced by Fred Taylor (1942), Walter Spradbery (1944) and Eric Kennington (1944).
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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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