Well, what exactly?
The catalogue for the latest Great Central Railwayana Auction flopped through the letter-box the other day and I was rather taken with the poster above, mainly because of its extreme oddness. It’s as though someone has a) put up a piece of Russian constructivist sculpture in Canvey Island of all places and then, b) commissioned a poster of it. Which is great but, you have to admit, intriguing.
Fortunately, the torrent of knowledge that is the internet came up with the answer quite quickly. The lady is actually a shipping beacon – although one that’s a bit of a mystery even if you live on Canvey Island because it was probably demolished in the early 1950s, well before anyone thought of taking a reasonable photo of it.
This is the best that I – and the Canvey Community website – can come up with. They’ve got the full story on their website here if you want to know more. And the London Transport Museum also have the poster in their collection.
So now I know. To the extent that I am almost tempted to bid for the poster – although in the absence of any estimates at all in the auction, I have no idea whether or not I could afford it. (Why do railwayana auctions do this? Am I supposed to be such a railway buff that I can just intuit what it might go for? Does anyone know?).
There are a few other odds and ends in the auction too that are worth taking a look at. In my current enfeebled state, I quite fancy spending the rest of the winter in Moretonhampstead, for example.
Preferably in about 1923. Although you can still stay there if you want, it’s now called Bovey Castle and looks like a magnificent piece of Edwardian kitsch if that’s your bag.
This, meanwhile is a rather natty bit of design, although not one that I can tell you much about other than it’s by Keenan.
And this is a Rowland Hilder railway poster, which isn’t something I didn’t even know existed until now. But it’s rather good too.
I can tell you that it went for £680 at auction about eighteen months ago, so probably won’t be a bargain this time round either.
Finally, there’s this, which for some reason I find utterly bemusing.
Perhaps because Then looks slightly more modern to me than Now. Or maybe because I keep thinking that Captain Cook has just come back in the bottom picture. Not that any of this matters in the slightest as someone in Whitby will probably want this poster very much indeed.
If any of these are of interest to you, the auction is on 15th January, and you can find the catalogue here. Or if you want to know more about Canvey Island, can I very much recommend the Julien Temple film Oil City Confidential which is wonderful (I know, I didn’t want to watch a documentary about Dr Feelgood either, but trust me, it’s brilliant).