South for Sunshine

    The Southern Railway advertising department was based at Waterloo Station. Although it opened in 1848 this station was re-built between 1900 and 1921 and is one of the finest termini in Britain. The impressive entrance incorporates The Victory Arch, which is the company’s war memorial. The UK International Channel Tunnel Terminus was opened at Waterloo in 1993.

    These two posters were commissioned as part of the 1948 centenary of the opening of Waterloo Station. The artist, Helen Madeleine McKie, carried out a wide range of publicity work for the Southern Railway. In addition to writing and illustrating booklets and other publicity material, she designed uniforms and upholstery and in 1939 was asked to decorate two new coaches for the cross-channel service.

    These posters give a glimpse into the social effects of wartime on everyday life and on the running of the railways. Commissioned in 1948, they celebrate the pleasantries of life which were resumed after the war. The guards' red tunics and busbies are turned into khaki uniforms in wartime, when camouflage is used and the roof blacked out. In peace time, the mail vans urge people to "post early" but in wartime the message is "be brief". The war seems to make Waterloo dreary both psychologically and literally.


    Tony Hillman & Beverley Cole, South for sunshine: Southern Railway publicity and posters, 1923 to 1947>, : Harrow Weald: Capital Transport, 1999,
    Dieter Hopkin & Beverley Cole, The railway poster in Britain: excursion for history and culture 1997.

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