An exhibition of 40 vintage railway posters celebrating Britain’s ‘Golden Age of Travel’ opens from 19th March to the 26th June 2022 at Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens, County Durham.
All sourced from private collections, these vibrant art-deco and modernist posters turned railway platforms into inspirational art displays, tempting people to take a holiday or day-trip by train.
Andrew Heard, exhibition curator and visitor programmes manager at Ushaw, said: “Railway posters from this period were early examples of glamorous and aspirational travel marketing for the masses.
Train travel shrank the country and enabled journeys over previously unrealistic distances to the coast and the countryside. Rail companies promoted these destinations by hiring some of Britain’s finest artists to produce beautiful images of holiday and leisure destinations.”
“We are thrilled to bring together such a significant collection of mid-twentieth century vintage railway posters, here at Ushaw. Visitors will journey from Edinburgh to London and beyond and be transported back in time, stopping at many iconic branch line destinations along the way.”
The collection includes posters from London, Edinburgh, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, York, North Yorkshire, Redcar, Durham, Newcastle, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.
Terry Buckle is a volunteer gardener at Ushaw. A chance mention of his father Claude Henry Buckle – one of Britain’s most prolific designers of railway posters – provided the inspiration for Ushaw to stage the exhibition.
Claude Buckle produced designs for over 100 railway posters in watercolour and oil; three of his original posters feature at Ushaw.
Terry Buckle said: “The posters are based on small sketches and watercolour paintings which were pitched to advertising managers at the railway companies. If they were selected, they were lithographically printed and hung in stations up and down the country.
They capture a moment in time and are a window into Britain’s social history. I’m incredibly proud to see my father’s work displayed for younger generations to enjoy.”
Frank Henry Mason
Another well-known artist to feature prominently in the exhibition is Hartlepool born Frank Henry Mason.
Mason was a marine artist hired by LNER to create scores of posters for the mainly coastal stops on the line from London to Scotland. Mason designed his first poster in 1910 for the Great Northern Railway; his last poster design, for the nationalised British Railways, was produced in 1961.
“We are fortunate to be able to include numerous posters by Frank Henry Mason in the exhibition. Durham is known as the ‘Cradle of the Railways’ because it was here that Locomotion No. 1, the world’s first steam-powered passenger engine operated on the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. This exhibition celebrates a bygone era of rail travel but also reflects the North East’s pioneering heritage as the birthplace of passenger rail,” said Heard.
Ushaw Historic House and Gardents
Ushaw, a historic Georgian house, park and gardens, is also hosting rail-inspired activities throughout the Summer for visitors, including an outdoor miniature steam locomotive and a large scale installation of a model railway.
Edinburgh to London & Beyond opens March 19 and runs through until June 26 in the William Allen Gallery, daily 11am to 4pm. Exhibition access is included in the price of admission.
You can buy prints of railway posters at Amazon in the form of framed prints, birthday cards and more. Click here to find out what’s available.