Rail comfort

For goodness sake, I’d just written an entire paragraph pointing out that this is half term, I’m meant to be having fun but instead the auctions are coming at me so thick and fast that I can’t keep up with them.  And then WordPress only went and lost it.  Which didn’t exactly make things better.

So we’ll dispense with the preamble and get on with the auction.  Fortunately for both your entertainment and my good humour, there are two rather good ones coming up.  (The implicit comparison here is with the forthcoming Christies poster sale which is dreary in the extreme and so will be summarily despatched next week instead).

First up is the GW Railwayana Auction at Pershore, which contains enough posters to constitute a full sale on their own.  But fear not, you can still also buy a GWR bottle should the urge strike you.

GWR Refreshment Department Swindon small Cod Bottle standing 7½" tall

It’s a small COD bottle.  Insert your own fish jokes here.

Or, alternatively, have a poster of some fish.  On holiday.

Poster, British Railways 'Brixham Devon - Where Summer comes early Travel by Train' by Parton

Of course there is one thing which prevents the GWRA sale from being like a proper poster auction which is that, still, despite all my complaints, there are few dates and furthermore, no estimates.  So you pays your bid and you takes your chances.  Or, if you’re me, you don’t.  And I won’t even be tempted to do so by this Daphne Padden poster, either.

Poster, British Railways 'Llandudno' by Padden, D/R size. Depicts a family standing on raised castle shape with a large beach type umbrella above. Published by British Railways London Midland Region and printed by Stafford & Co

If you share my tastes, then the other prize lot is probably this Eckersley.

Poster BR 'Paignton' by Eckersley, D/R size. Depicts the classic image of young girl on beach with a huge beach ball held in front. Published by BR Western Region, printed by Charles & Read

But there are also a few other noteworthy lots, including a Lander which is entirely new to me.

Poster, British Railways 'Come to Beautiful Wales - Cymru Ambyth' by Lander, D/R size. Depicts the Welsh National Flag with traditional costumed lady beside a harp and between St David's Cathedral and Caernarvon Castle. Published by British Railways London Midland Region and printed by Charles & Read

While Pat Keely’s vision of the future via Centrepoint doesn’t come up often enough.

Poster, London Transport 'Twenty Mile Sightseeing Bus Tour of the West End and City - Runs daily from Buckingham Palace Road (near Eccleston Bridge, Victoria Station) fare 4/- (children 2/-)' by Pat Keely, D/R size

This image of Nottingham, meanwhile is by Kerry Lee, about whom I know precisely nothing, but it’s rather good, don’t you think?

Poster BR 'Nottingham - Travel There In Rail Comfort' by Kerry Lee D/R size. A collage of famous buildings and local amenities/activities. Published by British Railways London Midland Region and printed by Waterlow & Sons.

These two posters, by Bromfield and Stevens respectively aren’t exactly news, but it’s still good to see them up for sale.

oster BR(S) 'Swanage - Fast Trains from London Waterloo' by Bromfield, D/R size. Impressionist view of the Bay. Published by BR Southern Region, printed by Chromoworks Ltd

Poster, British Railways 'Porthcawl - For Happy Health Holidays' by Stevens, D/R size. Depicts a young boy with hands full with everything for the beach and Coney Beach Pleasure Park in the background. Published by British Railways (Western Region) 1956/57 and printed by Jordison & Co

And the catalogue is prepared to tell me that the Stevens, at least, dates from 1956/7.

That’s by no means the end of it, either.  There are plenty more posters that I have a soft spot for, like this Frank Sherwin.

Poster BR(S) 'Kent - The Garden Of England' by Frank Sherwin, Q/R size. View across hop fields and orchards with oast house and church beyond. Published by British Railways Southern Region and printed by Waterlow & Sons

As well as Kenneth Steel’s bonkersly technicolour vision of British Industry in the early 1960s.

Poster, British Railways 'Service to Industry' by Kenneth Steel c.1963, D/R size. Depicts a diesel with freight wagons in the confines of a North Eastern steel works. Published by British Railways North Eastern Region and printed by Jordison & Co Ltd.

And there’s still more to look at, even just in the railway posters.  Who knew, for example, that Chester was on the coast?

Poster 'Chester' anon, D/R size. A pleasing scene on the river with boaters, band in bandstand, children feeding swans etc. Published by BR London Midland Region, printed by Jordison

There must have been a few disappointed travellers after that was published.

I’ve hardly scraped the surface of the railway posters on offer, and I’m exhausted.  But there’s more than just those up for auction, too, the sale also includes a handful of London Transport posters.  The Keely is illustrated above, but I also rather like this 1955 example, by Anthony Rossiter.

Poster, London Transport 'Country Walks' by A Rossiter (1955), D/R size. Depicts a winter woodland scene with a quote by Tennyson. 'Above the wood which grides and clangs its leafless ribs and iron horns'. Printed by the Baynard Press

The quote is by Tennyson, should you be wondering.

And, as I hinted in an earlier post, there is also a reasonable slew of wartime propaganda, from both World Wars, of which this Beverley Pick is probably the best.

Wartime Poster, 'ATS Carry the Messages - The Motorcyclist Messenger roaring across country from Headquarters to scattered units is now an ATS girl'. Depicts a lady ATS motorcyclist with German bombers in the air above

Although I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this wartime poster about wartime posters before, whose subliminal message seems to be that reading government propaganda makes you more attractive to the opposite sex.

Wartime Poster, 'Thousands of Women Needed Now in the ATS, WAAF - Vital to the Offensive - No British Woman will stand a side as the hour approaches'. Measuring 20" x 30". Depicts soldier, sailor and airman walking passed a woman reading the poster. Printed for HM Stationery Office by J Weiner Ltd

But really, you need to go and see for yourself.  There are nearly a hundred posters in the sale, and I’m bound to have missed some of them out.  And that despite the fact that I’ve gone on for too long already.  The second auction, I think, will have to wait for a post all of its own.  Watch this space.

  • I rather enjoy your blogs so thought I would add a couple of comments. My poster interest was mainly motoring related, but this has since expanded a little. While trawling eBay earlier today, and before having read today’s blog, I noticed another Kerry Lee poster that sold via eBay for the city of Londonderry:

    Londonderry Poster – Kerry Lee

    I was quite taken by it and had I noticed it before the end of the auction (which was a while ago) I would have probably placed a bid.

    I was also interested in your Christies auction comment. Their commission rate is always on the high side for my liking so I don’t often pay much attention to their sales. However, I did spot a poster I am pretty certain I owned (as in the exact example) that has passed between collectors and dealers for an ever increasing price over the last couple of years. This poster collecting seems to be a small world.

    On another note, do you have any advice on quad royal size frames with suitable UV protection or is it a DIY job of ordering the Plexiglas and framing it thereafter?

    All the best,


  • Thankyou for the kind words, and also the link. There’s a definite family resemblance there. (It’s also interesting to note that the poster went for roughly what I’d expect it to go for at a railwayana auction too; there really are very few bargains these days.)

    Interesting also about that poster, although I am sure that there is a lot of that kind of thing going on.

    Re the framing, if anyone out there can find ready-made quad royal frames, I’d like to know too. We get ours done by the lovely Geraint:


    I don’t know where you are, but he does come down to London regularly to pick up work., if that helps.

  • With so many posters in one auction, maybe they are filling the space left by Christies, albeit at a slightly lower price, and with no dates or estimates. A bit like you I find it baffling that they can’t manage that kind of basic stuff, which other auctions do – they’ve gone online, but can’t tell anyone any details – a bit strange.
    As to the posters, a pretty good show really, and pretty varied; something for everyone you might say, unless you want pre-war British Travel classics – Swann in New York seems to be the only place for them now – why is that.

  • I don’t know, is the short answer, although Onslows do sometimes tend to have a few.

    My theory vis a vis the availability of these kind of posters is that the prices have risen quite a lot over the past five years or so, enough to tempt quite a number out onto the market. But there may well be other reasons too.

  • Hi,
    That Pat Keely poster features I think Millbank Tower.
    Enjoyable blog, thanks for sharing.

  • Hi. The lovely Pat Keely poster is in fact influenced by the Vickers (now Millbank) Tower, rather than Centre Point – you can tell by the convex facade and also its proximity to the river.

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