Daphne Padden

After posting briefly about her a while back, I’ve been trying to find out more about Daphne Padden and her very individual poster designs.

Daphne Padden coach left luggage vintage poster

Some of my favourites are the ones she created for British coach companies in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Daphne Padden coaches to east anglia fish vintage poster

Padden coach party travel vikings vintage poster

They’re almost child-like in their simplicity and delight – I’ve never seen such an unthreatening bunch of Vikings out on the rampage – but are nonetheless sophisticated pieces of design.

To my surprise, although plenty of people really love her work, I couldn’t really find anything on the web about her, so I’ve been forced into doing some proper research.  Sadly, what I discovered is that I’d begun just a bit too late, as she died in September last year.  I really hope she knew that people liked her earlier work so much.

Daphne Padden bus or coach question mark vintage poster

But I have been able to find out a few more details about her life.  Daphne Padden was born on 21st May 1927, and was the daughter of Percy Padden ARCA who was both a fine artist and a poster designer himself.  Here are a couple of his designs – the bus poster is from 1921, I am guessing that the railway one is from the late twenties or early thirties, but I can’t find a date.

Percy Padden 1921 vintage bus poster boxmoor from LT

Percy Padden Dovercourt Bay vintage railway poster

As for most of the rest of the story, perhaps it’s best if she tells it in her own words – quite literally.  This is the information which she produced for exhibitions of her work.

Daphne padden biography in her own hand

She worked as a graphic designer from the mid-fifties until, I think, the mid-1970s.  Here are a couple of poster designs from 1956 and 1957 respectively.

Daphne Padden Northern Ireland vintage travel poster

Daphne Padden Pall Mall cigarettes vintage poster 1957

As her work evolved, she developed a very sharp and distinctive graphic style, mostly created using cut-paper collage.

Daphne Padden greetings telegram poster GPO

Here’s one of her originals.

Daphne Padden original collage

Unfortunately the glue hasn’t aged as well as the design.

As she mentioned above, she also did some more corporate design work.  Here’s some in-store display material for M&S, in a world where sell-by dates were an exciting new invention.

Daphne Padden in store display material for Marks and Spencer

But sometime in the 70s, she changed direction and became a fine artist, producing wildlife paintings on a miniature scale.

These barn owls are only 6″ x 5″ in real life, and if you want to see more, her gallery has some here.

It’s not a completely surprising departure, because there are animals in quite a few of her posters, from this cat,

Daphne Padden Royal Blue coaches vintage poster

to this oddball collection of travellers (I am a particular fan of the mole driver).

Daphne Padden Zoo coach trips vintage poster

She didn’t do much work in the last five or six years because of ill-health, and she died on 21 September 2009.

Now I have to confess that I’ve been sitting on this information for a few weeks now, because Daphne Padden’s own archive of designs and posters has been up for auction.  I’m pleased to say that we did win some, but unfortunately it’s all still in transit and so I can’t show you any of them yet.  So there will be another post in due course when they arrive.  I’m also hoping to be in touch with some of her friends as well, in which case I will post a more extended biography when I can.

Thanks to Lincoln Joyce Fine Art and Gumersalls Solicitors for help with information, and to Allison for the borrowing once more of her Daphne Padden Flickr set.

  • I am sorry I can’t remember if I have got in touch with you but Daphne is my dad’s second cousin I think and I cannot remember if I have already contacted you about this??

    Percy was born in Wolverhampton and was my grandad’s cousin. Percy’s grandad was John Padden born in County Mayo in 1828. I think when my grandad got married in 1917 he may have been cut off from the family as he married a Protestant and the family were catholic – all my dad remembers is he had no family when he was younger when actually he did. Percy had quite a few uncles and cousins but they would have been quite poor and many of his cousins would have died. I think he had a few brothers so Daphne would have had some cousins. It is great to hear that they were successful in life. I have more information if you are interested. I love to read about them. My daughter is studying fine art and photography at Aberystwyth uni and has studied their work – I love the range.


  • Very pleased to find some extended information and examples of Daphne Padden’s work. I was an Australian schoolboy travelling by P&O to England in 1962 when I think I first sighted her work – a menu, which looks very similar in technique to the examples shown. My elderly mother still has it somewhere among her mementos.

  • Daphne lived near us in Gislingham,Suffolk and we became friends. We purchased three miniatures from her,two containing kittens and one of chestnuts. When she moved back to Epsom, we used to send each other cards at Christmas unfortunately it was only with the cessation of a cards from Daphne that we learn’t of her death.

  • thank you for sharing that – I had no idea she’d ever lived anywhere other than Epsom.

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