This section sets out some of the most relevant and interesting paper-based reference sources (ie books) on the subject of railway posters in general and those of the Southern Railway in particular. Please note that following a recent update to the site some of the links below need updating. Your patience is appreciated.

Posters and art

Railway Posters 1923-1947

Probably the best known book on the general subject by Beverley Cole and Richard Durack. It covers all four of the major pre-nationalisation railways (GWR, LMS, LNER and the Southern) throughout their existence. The book is introduced with an interesting essay on the railway poster and its development. It's a useful reference source and often gives valuable information about the artists and dates of publication.

One criticism is that a number of images have been scanned without any remedial work, so defects such as crease- and water-marks are only too evident but it's a valuable reference.

South for Sunshine: Southern Railway Publicity

Again by Beverley Cole but this time with Tony Hillman, this neat tome specialises in the Southern's publicity material. Again, there is a useful introduction to the subject and a wealth of interesting material. There's rather too much 'Sunny South Sam' for my tastes and a lot of booklets and pamphlets rather than posters, but it's very good as a general guide to the Southern's material throughout its life.

Poster to Poster: Scotland: Railway Journeys in Art

OK, so it's not about the Southern, but this is a fine book drawing on the NRM's archives. It took seven years of research to produce (so they say). The good news is that further volumes in the series (this is volume one) have been published. The bad news is that the one covering the Southern Railway will be the last to be produced!

Art for All: British Posters for Transport (Yale Center for British Art)

This richly illustrated volume celebrates poster designs for London Transport and the pre-nationalisation railways, highlighting works that are among the triumphs of twentieth-century poster art. Designed to accompany an exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art, 'Art for All' features more than one hundred works executed for the Underground and the railways. You've missed the Yale show, but the exhibition was at Musée de l'Imprimerie in Lyon, France, from 15th October 2010 to 13th February, 2011. You could have gone there by Eurostar ...

British Prints from the Machine Age: Rhythms of Modern Life 1914-1939

Published to accompany the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this catalogue examines the impact of Futurism and Cubism on British modernist printmaking from the beginning of World War I to the beginning of World War II. Imagery ranges from powerful artistic impressions of the first fully mechanized war, to radical geometric abstractions, to the colourful, streamlined jazz age images of speed, sport and diversion which the Grosvenor School artists created in order to introduce a broader public to modern art and design.

London Transport Posters: A Century of Art and Design

This collection celebrates a century of outstanding graphic design commissioned by the Underground, London Transport, and its present-day successor, Transport for London. This book explores the organisation's pioneering role as Britain's greatest patron of poster art, a unique role developed in the early twentieth century under the visionary leadership of Frank Pick. The selected artworks and posters, many published here for the first time, reflect a dazzling variety of period styles and techniques, produced by an extraordinary range of artists and designers attracted by the Underground's world-wide reputation.

Modern British Posters: Art, Design & Communication

A little off topic, perhaps, but not by far and certainly helpful putting the images on this site into a broader context.

The posters in this book cover topics as broad as transport, new towns, art, architecture, the seaside and popular culture. The images demonstrate the graphic language emerging in Britain during the twentieth century, as commercial art was transformed into graphic design.

Poster to Poster: Yorkshire and the North East: Railway Journeys in Art

Maintaining the standards of the first volume in this series, this volume's scope moves south into the North East and Yorkshire. Guess which region will be at the tail end of the journey? Until it gets down our way, enjoy these excellent tomes.

Pleasure Trips by Underground

London Underground's use of original, clear and consistent design features is both legendary and timeless. This book shares some of the most attractive and interesting posters developed for LT with the added bonus that they give lots of ideas to get you off your backside and out into the real world. The places may have changed since these posters were created, but tracking such progress is fascinating in itself.

Poster to Poster: Midlands and Wales v. 3: Railway Journeys in Art

The third volume in this excellent series journeys south to the Midlands and Wales. in some 250 pages its eclectic collection brings a past age to life. The cover illustrates, I believe, Oxford, home to probably the best university in the world....

British Posters of the Second World War

The Southern Railway was on the front line of Britain's defences in the Second World War and that conflict had a fundamental effect on the railways' future in post-war Britain. This collection puts our selective sample of images in a broader perspective.

War Posters: Weapons of Mass Communication

In World War II the persuasive skills and clever design techniques of commercial artists were diverted to the somewhat more serious purpose of propaganda. This collection covers a wide timescale from WWI through the inter-war years and WWII to the Cold War and beyond.

Brian Cook's Landscape's of Britain

The illustrations of Brian Cook from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s have become iconic. His heightened use of colour, in a flat colour poster style, is much imitated. His jacket covers for the Batsford series of books that celebrated British life are now very collectable. This collection of his best work is a beautiful publication that should be enjoyed by all lovers of good design and illustration.

Speed to the West: GWR Publicity

By the leading authority Beverley Cole and Aldo Delicata this work is in similar format to South for Sunshine: Southern Railway Publicity and of course covers the same period but with a focus on the Southern's rival, the Great Western. Probably of most interest to Southern aficionados are those images which show the two companies' competition in the South-West.

It's Quicker by Rail: LNER Publicity, 1923-1947

Another work by the leading authority Beverley Cole this collection is in similar format to South for Sunshine: Southern Railway Publicity and of course covers the same period but with a focus on the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). The LNER had the record-breaking streamlined A4 class locomotives and famous A3 (Flying Scotsman) - plenty of material there.

Underground, Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube

Underground, Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube

A lively account of the history and oddities of London's Underground system. A charming publication from an author who clearly has a passion for the Tube, warts and all.

See this review on the Guardian web site.

Railways and stuff

The Southern Railway Story (Story of)

With the aid of stunning colour photographs, The Southern Railway Story explores this remarkable passenger-traffic-driven railway from its commuter trains, via its international express railway, to its role as a holiday railway serving many of the most popular seaside resorts.

The Southern Railway (Oakwood library of railway history; no.56)

A delightful monograph. In just 54 pages Kidner summarises the origins and life of the Southern Railway in all its glory. He covers lines, stations, electrification, locomotives, rolling stock, accidents, docks and marine and locomotive naming. My 1974 reprint contains over 40 black-and-white photographs and a charmingly nostalgic note from the author reflecting on the railway in 1973. If you're interested in the Southern this is a concise yet comprehensive summary of its existence.

Discovering London Railway Stations (Shire Discovering)

London is the supreme railway city and the Southern lies at its heart. In 1900 it had fourteen railway termini, more than any other city in the world. A century later only one of them has disappeared completely, and just three have undergone comprehensive reconstruction. All the others are recognisable products of the Victorian railway age that continue to function daily as busy stations for the travellers of the twenty-first century. This book provides the railway enthusiast with a brief history of the principal termini, featuring key aspects of architectural design and engineering but also highlighting anecdotes, myths, personal stories and curiosities about the stations' social and cultural history.

The Transformation of St Pancras Station

At the end of 2007, St Pancras became the new London terminus for the high-speed channel tunnel rail link to continental Europe and in 2010 domestic high-speed services began from the Southern Railway's Kent heartland. Central to this change, the entire structure and area around St Pancras have been renovated and transformed as one of the largest civil engineering projects in Europe. This book looks at the history and process of the project and shows how the old St Pancras one of Londons finest Victorian stations has been both restored to its original glory and extended for the demands of 21st century rail travel.

Great British Railway Journeys

Inspired by George Bradshaw, a 19th-century cartographer who mapped Britain's railways as they sprung up around him, Charlie Bunce and Michael Portillo take a journey along nine classic British railway routes and surround themselves with the history, the charm and the people at the heart of the railways. More than just a practical mode of transport, the railways are richly representative and evocative of British society and how it has developed over the last 150 years. Great British Train Journeys is a passionate, charming and insightful look at Britain from a window seat: a compelling read for all who look forward to travelling by train.

Southern Electric: Main Line Electrification, the War Years and British Railways v. 2: A New History

In this first major history of Southern Electric for over fifty years, David Brown presents a definitive survey that is the fruit of thirty years of research. It includes the first ever detailed history of the Southern Railway's suburban rolling stock as well as dealing with the development of the electrified suburban services.

A Southern Electric Album

Possibly the Southern's principal distinguishing feature was its extensive electrified network. 'A Southern Electric Album' is a comprehensive reference work for all those interested in Southern EMUs.

Southern Railway Handbook: The Southern Railway 1923-47

The Southern Railway may not have been the most glamorous of the 'Big Four' companies that emerged from the grouping of 1923, but it was the great innovator. In the 1930s the Southern pioneered the first main-line electrification and created the largest electrified suburban railway network in the world. It was the first to have regular departures - so that passengers did not need to carry a timetable - and the first to run true international services, introducing the 'Night Ferry' through-trains from London to Paris using special ferries. This authoritative book provides highly detailed reference information about the Southern.

Southern Railway Handbook: The Southern Railway 1923-47

This new addition to a popular series features the Southern Railway between 1923 and 1948. Drawing upon some 250 mono photographs, Kevin Robertson examines in depth the railway and those aspects of the Southern that helped to make it readily identifiable to enthusiasts and modellers.

Southern Infrastructure 1922 - 1934: Stations / Signalling / Trackwork


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