|home | about | academic | news | features | links|
|About the welcome page's picture|
The IRS&TH web site's welcome page will occasionally feature a new image relating to railway and transport history. Details of the current image are given below.
Return to IRS&TH welcome
GWR/SR poster: Plymouth, Devon (1938)
The current front-page picture is a detail from
a poster advertising Plymouth as a holiday destination. The poster was
produced jointly by the Great Western Railway and Southern Railway and
Plymouth City Council, and appeared in 1938.
GWR/SR poster, Plymouth, Devon (1938). Artist: Claude Buckle.
Despite the rise of road transport in Britain between the two world wars, the railways remained significant carriers of holiday and excursion traffic and advertised extensively to ensure that such business continued to come their way. This poster was the result of an agreement between the Great Western Railway and the Southern Railway to produced joint advertising of the city of Plymouth in south-west England, which could be reached across both SR and GWR networks. The city council was also involved, contributing half the cost of the poster. This kind of co-operative publicity enterprise was a common feature of the inter-war years.
The poster shows a view south and west from the Citadel, across Plymouth Hoe and The Sound. In the foreground, Hoe Road draws the viewer into the scene, describing a course between the blue-green of the sea and the bright greens of the Hoe. Yachts and other pleasure-craft dot the coastal waters. On the left is an open-air swimming pool or lido, on the right a bandstand and other recreational pavilions, all suggesting the relaxing atmosphere and excellent leisure facilities the city offers the visitor. The structure on the right is Smeaton's Tower, originally the Eddystone Lighthouse, built in 1759 and moved in 1882 to stand on the Hoe. In the middle distance the green headlands of the Devon coast - Redding Point, then Penlee Point - stretch away like the walls of a natural castle. In the middle distance is Drake's Island with its fort guarding the entrance to Plymouth Sound.
Plymouth has a long history as a main base for the Royal Navy, and that naval presence is embodied in the long grey shape of a warship slipping in through the entrance to The Sound. The vessel shown is one of the most powerful British battleships, either HMS Nelson or HMS Rodney; above her fly two RAF flying boats. The presence of this military technology in an otherwise peaceful holiday scene symbolizes the two sides of Plymouth, simultaneously seaside resort and arsenal of war, and perhaps expresses some of the anxieties lurking below the surface of the troubled summer of 1938.
Alan Bennett, Great Western Lines and Landscapes (Cheltenham: Runpast, 2003)
Roger Burdett Wilson, Go Great Western: A History of GWR Publicity (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1970)
Beverley Cole & Richard Durack, Railway Posters 1923-1947 (London: Laurence King, 1992)
This poster is reproduced by kind permission of the National Railway Museum, York.
|IRS&TH home | University of York | National Railway Museum|
|IRS&TH / 23 Apr 05|