Back in time for posters

Do you remember the ghosts of Notting Hill Gate?

wide of disused passageway Notting Hill Gate tube station

These were the posters discovered during a renovation of the tube station a few years ago. A fascinating time capsule, they provided an evocative wormhole back to the concerns and consumerism of the late 1950s, all documented by LT’s Head of Design and Heritage, Mike Ashworth.

Old posters in disused passageway at Notting Hill Gate tube station, 2010

Where we lead, the French follow.  Or so it seems.

Old posters revealed on Paris Metro at Trinité station

The Paris metro station of Trinité is being prepared for renovation.  As layers of cladding were stripped back, a whole archive of posters was revealed here too.


By a curious coincidence, the posters date from just a year later than the Notting Hill survivors, revealing the everyday life of Paris in 1959.

cladding reveals old posters at Trinite metro

A life which, in some ways, was very different to ours.  The left-hand poster is apparently a roll-call of all those convicted of offences on the network, while the right is about visits to the underground tombs of the city.

two posters from trinité station

Neither of which were found anywhere near the walls of Notting Hill Gate.

But what really strikes me about these posters is that, dare I say it, the overall standard of design is not as good as those in London.  I wasn’t expecting that at all, when design historians spend so much time apologising for British design in comparison to Continental trends, but it’s true.

Paris bus services poster from Trinite metro

Of course there are some good posters.  In fact this one looks great and I quite fancy a copy.

Calor iron advertisement Trinite metro

I’d love to be able to see more of this intriguing fragment too.

fragment of old poster trinite metro

But overall, I’m afraid to say that I think Notting Hill Gate would have been a more visually pleasing place to catch the train.

The other thing that strikes me about the comparison though, is more about the present day.  The posters in Paris are only here for you to see today because they were snapped by a passing commuter, although fortunately one who is a professional photographer.


He’s called Yann Covès, and all of the photographs on here are his.

Whereas in London, the notion of heritage is so much more entrenched that LT have a man to manage it.  Which I also think is probably better, but then I’m British so I would say that, wouldn’t I?

  • Hoorah for the UK! And thank goodness for London Transport archives – what a treasure they are! :o)

  • The ‘night bus’ poster is by the RATP’s artist/designer of choice Georges Redon – he did an immense body of work for Paris transport especially their leaflet and map covers during the ’50s and ’60s. It’s lovely to see a poster by him!

  • Ah right, thank you. My knowledge tends to run out somewhere round the English Channel…

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