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Seaside Railway Posters

  • Mark Hill
  • 02 Mar 2010

Mark Hill CrackingWith few cars, the expansion of the railway and increased salaries, the 1920s and 30s saw an upsurge in English seaside holidays. Rail was the most cost effective way to travel and the leading railway companies, such as LNER (London & North Easter Railway) and GWR (Great Western Railway), made the most of this, placing all efforts on attracting customers to their routes. And so a Golden Age of railway posters was born. 

British Rail Seaside PosterToday many enjoy the nostalgic pull of childhood holidays and these posters are the perfect way to help preserve the memories. When assessing desirability and value, the resort itself is a big indicator. Some destinations – such as Skegness – became legendary and gathered a cult following that took tourism success well into the 1950s and 60s.

Skegness Is So Bracing IDesigned by John Hassall, the ‘Skegness is SO Bracing’ poster is the most iconic for seaside resorts and can now fetch up to £1,500 ($2,250). Not only does it play on English humor with a ‘jolly fisherman’ skipping down the beach, it broke with the conventions of the time by using bright, bold colors. This poster is still familiar today, almost 100 years after its release. Over the years several variations were produced, for example, with a small child with a ball skipping along side the fisherman, and in 1966 the town council was given copyright to reproduce the original image. These may be more affordable at £300-£600 ($450-900) for the variants and under £100 ($150) for the later copies by the local council.

Purvis Seaside PosterTom Purvis was also a leading poster artist, designing over 100 posters from 1923-45, including the example on the right. He worked for LNER and his posters are equally iconic, and in the style of the modern design movement. They can easily be spotted by his use of people. Purvis never showed the trains in his designs, instead he focused on fashionable people enjoying themselves, which invited the public to become those people. And, like Hassall, Purvis used vibrant, bold, sun-drenched colors that enticed the public to the beaches and that still warm the hearts of collectors today. Clean-lined, modern style fonts are also a give-away that a seaside poster is from this time. Purvis’s designs can fetch between £800-£3000 ($800-$4,500), depensing on the design and its appeal and rarity.

Images courtesy of Onslows.