FOUND: vintage posters of the London underground

vintage London Underground postersTo most of us, traveling by tube is not the most glamourous of events, but if you look at the selection of vintage posters we’ve curated on a Pinterest board, you could easily be led to believe otherwise. We’ve picked out just a few themes that are key to promoting the tube to any respectable Londoner.

1. If you don’t feel like a Grecian goddess, movie star or engulfed in fiery warmth when you get on the tube, you’re doing it wrong.

While today, there’s a volunteer at every station encouraging you to walk, hop, or unicycle to your destination instead of using the overpacked tube during rush hour, throughout the late 19th Century early part of the 20th Century, it was all about attracting more Londoners to use the tube, using pretty much whatever reasoning possible.

vintage London underground posters

Pinterest pins of posters from 1925-1936.

2. The most obvious reason to use the tube in 1915? It was advertised as a quicker alternative to early model cars and the horse-drawn carriages of back in the day.

vintage London underground posters

A Pinterest pin of a 1915 poster by Alfred Leete shows the dizzying speeds the tube can achieve compared to alternatives at the time.

And it’s still a technique that can be applied today given the congestion in zone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… uh you get the point.

vintage London underground posters

A Pinterest pin of a 1987 poster illustrating that the snail-pace of traffic above ground is nothing new.

3. But the tube is all about exciting people about where it can take you (and there must be a new poster for EVERY season).

vintage London underground photo4. Back then though, it was all about escaping to the countryside… now we use it to escape the country completely.

vintage London underground poster5. Despite how vast the transport network has grown though, 90% of Londoners will never get round to ticking off all the places mentioned in these posters.

Have you?

Vintage Loundon underground posters

Pinterest pins of posters advertising taking the tube for a day out.

4. But if someone looks at these posters 2000 years in the post-apocalyptic future, they’ll simply conclude that workers at TfL must really, really have LOVED the zoo.

vintage Loundon Underground posters

vintage London underground poster

Pinterest pin showing the 1933 ‘for the Zoo’ poster by Maurice A.Miles

It’s by far the most featured destination in vintage posters doing the rounds.

vintage London underground postersNo, really, I’m serious, you have to…

vintage London underground poster

5. And when all else fails for attracting passengers, rely on the most British of reasons to ride the tube… the weather, obviously.

vintage London Underground Posters

Vintage London Underground posters

A selection of pins of 1920s posters promise protection from the elements.

6. Although, you can’t really have it both ways now…

I personally refuse to believe it’s ever been hotter outside than on the underground.

Or as a TfL engineer put it in 2009: “Cooling the Tube is one of the greatest engineering challenges faced by London Underground.”

Picture 249

7. Ultimately though, for all the glamourous and exotic destinations the tube can take you to at “dizzying speeds”, there’s little TfL’s utopian posters can do… about changing the passengers.

vintage London underground postersFor the full poster gallery, visit our London Underground vintage posters Pinterest board.


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