By Gyroscopic Monorail

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart like finding a new archive or designer.  Even better, both.  So today – thanks once again to the lovely online library which is VADS – meet A E Halliwell and his archive.

Halliwell was more of an arts educator than a full-time designer, teaching at the Central School and Camberwell.  But before that, he did do a number of rather good modern posters, mainly for London Transport.

Trooping the Colour London transport poster A E Halliwell 1929

A E Halliwell vintage London Transport poster Molesey Regatta

Surprisingly, not all of the designs in the Halliwell archive are in the London Transport Museum Collection – like the Molesey Regatta one above.  I don’t know whether this is because the designs were rejected or in fact that the LTM archive isn’t as omniscient as I’d always thought.  It would be interesting to know though.

Given the style of the designs above, it’s not surprising to discover that he also produced posters for the Southern Railway too.

A E Halliwell Southern Railway poster vintage travel

Although he did also manage to introduce a surprising touch of Bloomsbury to railway advertising with this 1928 poster.

A E Halliwell Southern Railway Holidays abroad poster Bloomsbury stylee

It’s good, but I also think it’s a nifty piece of niche marketing, the idea being that people who had enough money to travel abroad (not many in 1928) were probably sophisticated enough to deal with a less literal version of the modern.

But there are other gems in there too.  Some of his best work, for me, was done for the state.

A E Halliwell LCC poster VADS

A E Halliwell Dig For Victory vintage World war two propaganda poster

But there are more reasons to like the archive too.  One is that it preserves a lot of Halliwell’s more ephemeral designs, the kind of things that not only don’t tend to survive, but are rarely attributed when they do.

A E Halliwell vintage advertising designs

I particularly like the Birds Custard design.

Even when Halliwell moved more into teaching than commercial work, he still designed, and the archive also has a good selection of these, too.  I’m guessing, as it’s one performance only, that this must have been a student play.

A E Halliwell Dumb Wife of Cheapside poster archive theatre

While others are more obviously related to his teaching work.

A E Halliwell facets of art education poster vads archive

All of these are dated 1930 by the archive.  I would be surprised, to say the least.

But best of all, if you’re like me and prefer the more modern stuff to the 1920s deco, is that Halliwell also collected some of his favourite student work over the years.  Some of which is really excellent.

Olympia festival of light A E HAlliwell; archive

I particularly covet this one.

Carters Seeds student work A E HAlliwell archive

Although I’m not entirely convinced I haven’t seen that in a 1950s design annual.  I will do some research and report back.

I have definitely seen this one before too, but can’t remember where.  Can anyone help with where or how?

Re-dedication of Coventry Cathedral poster A E HAlliwell archive

This one, meanwhile, could only have been student work.

Underground student madness

Why didn’t the future look like this in the end?  I think we were robbed.




  • I came across his work some years ago when I was doing some advisory work at Bretton Hall. I was shown his archive, which was all in boxes and uncatalogued. I’d always promised myself to go back and look at it properly – so it is great to see it available in this way. Thank you for showing us. It was strange that it should end up there – but it relates to his contribution to education rather than his contribution to poster design. Yes it seems that he was pretty unlucky with getting his designs accepted at London Underground. The V&A have one of his original designs too: ‘The Zoo’, 1927.
    I’d hazard a guess that the ‘Facets of art education’ poster is 1960! That would make the closing date a Friday.

  • I remember going through this archive when the “Your holidays – Abroad” poster came up on eBay a couple of months ago (I think the seller referred to it). I seem to remember that a high proportion of the work had never been published. Whether they were failed submissions or simply teaching exercises I guess we will never know, but this could explain why items such as the Molesey Regatta poster are not in the LTM collection. On the other hand, although the LTM collection is very comprehensive I don’t believe it to be complete!

  • Dr G -thanks for all of that. And yes, 1960 does seem a bit more likely than 1930.

    mm – I missed that one, what did it go for in the end? It’s not exactly a conventional railway poster, but then that’s part of its charm for me. I probably ought to contact the archive, as they may know what was published and what wasn’t. Some seem more finished than others though, so it may be a mixture of both.

  • “Your Holidays – Abroad” went for £66 but was in need a little restoration.

  • Not bad, all things considered then. Although it does look a bit more like a book cover than a poster.

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