About this site

Cast your mind back to a time before the ubiquity of the motor car and television. For the first half of the twentieth century the railways were the principal form of transport in the UK. Railway posters and adverts in the print media were used extensively to promote the railway companies' services. The materials they generated varied from the straightforward informational to creative art of charm and distinction, much of it fine examples of the commercial application of Art Deco style.

Unlike the other post-grouping railways, the Southern Railway was principally a passenger railway. Moreover, much of that traffic was commuter traffic into and out of London peak times, with consequent under-utilisation of capacity outside those busy periods. The Southern pioneered electrification of its suburban lines. At the same time it sought to encourage holiday and other traffic to the coast, and of course was the main route to the Continent through the channel ports.

These distinctive characteristics led to the creation by the Southern of some of the most imaginative, unusual and attractive promotional materials of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This site aims to assemble a comprehensive and exemplary collection of such ephemera. The Southern produced a great deal of more populist material; you won't find much of that here, although it was no doubt successful - our focus is on quality and interest. You won't see much of 'Sunny South Sam' here. Too crass.

Our images have been assembled over a number of years from a variety of original sources - posters, adverts, brochures and magazines. Many of these are in poor condition and take a deal of work to produce an acceptable image which accurately reflects the original. We hope you enjoy them. If you have any suggestions or examples that you think may add to our collection, please contact us.

We would like to express our thanks to The Lordprice Collection ( for permission to use many of their images.

Finally, 'we' is actually Jim Ellis, a Londoner brought up south of the river and so a frequent user of the Southern's successors' services.


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