Caution! Railway safety since 1913

Safety beyond the railways

Safety education has had a lasting impact on Britain far beyond the railways, and has come to be found in virtually every walk of life.

Initially safety education focused on workplaces, but was soon dominated by road safety. From the 1930s home safety also received some attention, although it was extremely limited in comparison to road or work safety. The final section of the gallery shows some examples of the safety education which people might have encountered during their daily lives over the past 100 years.

This is yet another area in which the railways have had a huge impact on the fabric of British life – right up to the present.

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33. National Safety First Association road safety booklet, 1930s

Illustrated by the famous cartoonist Fougasse, this booklet was sent to drivers when they renewed their driving licence.

Courtesy of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)

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34. National Safety First Association wartime safety leaflet, c.1939-41

Produced in the early days of the Second World War, this leaflet gave hints on how to deal with the changed conditions on the roads and at home, along with general advice such as 'always keep fit and keep cheerful'.

Courtesy of RoSPA

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35. Central Council of Health Education bookmarks, c.1940s

Using attractive and accessible techniques to communicate ideas was not confined to safety messages - it was also applied to health. These bookmarks were given away at libraries and doctors' surgeries.

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36. Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents safe driving certificate, 1948, and medal, 1941

The RoSPA ran a safe driving competition, open to professional drivers including employees of the railway companies. If they avoided crashes for a year they were awarded a certificate; for longer periods they were awarded medals.

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37. John Masters and Co. road safety matchbox labels, c.1950s

Sometimes safety messages appeared inescapable. Everyday items, in this case a series of 10 matchbox labels, carried tips on road safety.

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38. Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents home safety poster, c.1950s

Although road and workplace safety were a more visible problem, home safety often produced just as many deaths and injuries. From the 1930s, attempts were made to improve home safety through posters like this.

Courtesy of RoSPA

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39. Central Council for Health Education home safety poster, c.1950s

A stark image warning about the biggest sources of injuries in the home: slips, trips and falls. Posters like this were displayed in hospitals and doctors' surgeries.

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40. National Coal Board work safety beer mats, 1976

Even drinking in the works bar, National Coal Board employees would find safety messages printed on their beer mats - five are seen here.

Courtesy of British Coal Corporation

41. Department for Transport road safety film, 2013

Safety education brought up to date: a shocking appeal to dissuade people from drinking and driving.

Courtesy of Department for Transport

Background: BR Warflat