It’s Quicker by Rail: speed and railway advertising

    It’s Quicker by Rail: speed and railway advertising

    4 July to 10 November 2013 in our art gallery

    Speed has always been an essential part of railway marketing – not as a white knuckle, rollercoaster ride but as a timesaving convenience for potential passengers. Through posters, models and objects this exhibition explores the era of the high speed train from the 1930s to today.

    Exhibition and museum entry is free.

    Background | Gallery | Previous exhibitions | Upcoming exhibition


    The high speed train arrived with the launch of Nigel Gresley’s A4 locomotives in 1935. These distinctively shaped style icons pulled streamlined carriages on specially named routes. The A4s took centre stage in the advertising for these new services, promoting them as the quickest and most stylish way to travel.

    From their introduction the A4’s broke speed records, culminating in Mallard hitting 126 mph. Mallard became an icon, but its owner the London North Eastern Railway Company didn’t make posters promoting Mallard the record breaker. The railway companies reasoned that customers would be terrified to travel at break neck speed. Instead posters focus on the benefits of speed, quoting journey times rather than speeds and showing relaxed passengers in comfortable carriages speeding to their destinations.

    As the fastest form of mass land transport, trains have used speed consistently since the 1930s to compete with road and air travel. Even today companies like Eurostar use the same techniques to sell their services. This exhibition explores the use of speed in railway advertising and the ways in which designers have risen to the challenge of using still images to make customers thinking of speed.

    A selection of the pictures that will be on display in the exhibition.

    Intercity - At 100 mph this is the only Constable you'll find alongide you

    The Coronation Scot
    LMS poster, 1937.

    SR poster, 1925.

    The Silver Jubilee, Britain's First Streamline Train
    LNER poster, 1935.

    Cleethorpes: It’s Quicker by Rail
    LNER poster, 1923-1947.

    Look what you Gain when you Travel by Train
    BR poster, 1977.

    Up to Scotland from King's Cross
    LNER poster, 1923-1947.

    Brighton Belle
    SR poster, 1934.

    The Quickest Way Between Two Points
    SR poster, 1931.

    The Four Streamliners
    Poster, London & North Eastern Railway, c.1937.

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    Previous exhibitions

    Upcoming exhibitions

    Landscape Photographer of the Year: Lines in the Landscape
    23 November 2013 – 5 May 2014

    The railways have always inspired photography, so it is fitting that we will be showcasing a first of its kind exhibition in our art gallery, drawing together all the winners from the past four years of this prestigious competition.

    Background: ‘The Coronation’, LNER poster, 1923-1947