Railways and Reading

From the earliest, the railway and reading went together. This was evident, in its most obvious form, in the railway bookstall. In Britain, the firm of WH Smith was launched from a bookstall, at Euston, and grew to become a nationwide high-street newsagent and wholesale newspaper distributor…

Here’s the story in more detail

http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/first-wh-smith-railway-bookstall

That was in the 1840s. More recently, Penguin Books launched the paperback revolution, at the end of the 1930s, from a station platform.

Roy Porter has written about the 18C British Enlightenment and described the changes in reading patterns that happened as a consequence of the huge expansion of letterpress printing.

In the 19C, the railways supported a similarly dramatic change in reading habits…expanding the market for magazines and short-stories, and for dramatic news of murder, mayhem, accidents and disaster…

The thrills of ghost stories and crime fiction quickly became a staple of railway journeys…

 

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The Haunted Railway…

The local page of the BBC website had a small feature on Kent’s most haunted railway stations…it wasn’t that interesting, but it got me started…

If ghosts are unquiet spirits, then the railway is full of them; the railway was, until quite recently, very dangerous indeed…I’ve posted before about the issue of railway safety.

The link between the railway and the spirit is evident in the visual and aural sensation of the steam railway…vapour and whistles…and all gone, in a flash!

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Faster and Faster…the machine ensemble and accelerationsim


I’ve posted many times about the connection between speed and desire in its various forms…just google New Pamphleteer, speed, and see what comes up…

The Guardian have just published a piece about the intellectual history of Accelerationsim. You can read it, here

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/11/accelerationism-how-a-fringe-philosophy-predicted-the-future-we-live-in

Here’s a link to my description of the machine-ensemble in relation to the railway system…

British Rail Design Standardisation

The counter-cultural origins of Accelerationism suggest that this philosophical position is a practical recasting of the to-hell-in-a-handcart view pf progress…it’s like accelerating into brickwall….and weirdly, bith left and right are determined to ride this creative destruction to the bitter end…

I’m a more interested in how to make this safe…I don’t want to stop it, but I want to enjoy the ride…like a big-dipper fairground ride.

Also, I am considering how this isn’t just about technology; it’s about a specific image-culture of speeding up…

 

PS

I forgot that there is a short-story by local author, HG Wells, called The New Accelerator (1901). The main part of the story plays out against the backdrop of  The Leas, Folkestone’s coastal and cliff-top seafront park…

You can download a PDF of the story

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Folkestone is an Art School • Bob + Roberta Smith • 2017

The artist Patrick Brill, called Bob and Roberta Smith, will be part of the art-in-public-space festival in Folkestone during 2017.

Bob and Roberta have made a series of short films about the potential for Folkestone becoming an art school…

You can watch the films, here

Bob and Roberta Smith

Bob and Roberta have an old train set, which is used to illustrate various philosocal points about art and education and life…perfect, and just like this this site.

An art school is not really about buildings and courses; it’s about people, and mostly it’s about students. In the end, anywhere can be an art school; it’s in your head…

Perfect.

PS

I’ll be posting from Folkestone later this summer…

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Andrew Martin • Jim Stringer Railway Detective • 2007

Just starting a new Jim Stringer mystery…

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“Express” • A Railway Card Game by Meccano Hornby • 1930s

Here is the box of a card game I found today…I’m not sure exactly how it works, but it looks lovely. I like the back of the cards, with the streamlined LMS engine, below

and the back of the packet has a young girl waving a hanky.

There are station views and more cards with wagons and so-on. Here are the engines

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New Luxury Train in Japan

A new luxury rail service has been launched in Japan…you can read about it and see pictures of it, here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-39776889

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Railway Safety Posters • Frank Newbould • British Rail • 1947

Here is the text of my NDB entry about Framk Newbould…The posters, above, are about railway platform safety.

Frank Newbould was a commercial artist and poster designer who made substantial contributions to the development of British advertising art during the 1920s and 1930s.

Newbould worked extensively for the London and North Eastern Railway and for other clients. During WW2 he was appointed a colleague of Abram Games and designed a series of evocatively nostalgic posters for the Army Bureau of Current Affairs.

Newbould died on 25th December 1951.

Early Life and Influences

Newbould was born in Bradford on the 24th September 1887. He was the only child of John Matthew West and Sarah Ellen (Robinson) Newbould. His father was a successful chemist and pharmacist in the town. Frank was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. The direction of Frank’s career changed course with his discovery of the original, bold and exciting poster designs of the Beggarstaff Brothers at the end of the 1890s.

The Beggarstaff Brothers were the artists William Nicholson and James Pryde working in commercial partnership. They were also family, as James was the brother of William’s wife Mabel.

At the end of the 1890s, they proposed a form of radical simplification in poster design based on paper cut-outs and the stencil shapes of provincial jobbing sign-writers.

The visual simplifications evident in their poster designs provided for a dramatic and exciting contrast to the over-elaboration of the prevailing styles. The Beggarstaff designs were, however, too radical for the tastes of most commercial advertising agents and their proposals remained, for the most, unrealised. However, their designs were especially influential in Germany and Britain.

In Germany, the dramatic simplification of the Beggarstaff designs was closely followed by the emergence of the sachplakat or “object” poster during the first decade of the 20C. This provided for a simple over-sized and hand-drawn image of the product with brand name, all rendered in few colours. This type of advertising was applied to a wide variety of consumer products from shoes, to lamp bulbs, spark plugs and typewriters. The most significant artist associated with this style of poster design was Lucien Bernhard.

In Britain, the influence of the Beggarstaff Brother designs took longer to manifest itself and did so in a more complex way. The flat-colour work of poster designers at the end of the 19C (Dudley Hardy for example) was mostly influenced by the legacy of Japanese woodcut prints and a taste for sophisticated aestheticism. In relation to the pictorial poster in Britain, these influences were, peculiarly, most clearly seen in the large-format railway poster.

Frank Newbould attended Bradford School of Art before gaining employment in the offices of a local printer. In 1919 he moved to London to establish himself as a poster designer. He married (Marion) Jane, daughter of the Rev G W Thomson, on the 24th March, 1919.

London and North Eastern Railway

The Railways (Grouping) Act, 1921, provided for the consolidation of over 120 railway companies into four large geographical groups. By far the largest of these was the London Midland and Scottish Railway. The railway provided services between London and Liverpool, and up to Glasgow and beyond.

Railway grouping provided for competition between east-coast and west-coast mainlines to Scotland. The London and North Eastern Railway, serving Edinburgh, was quick to recruit a number of exceptional poster designers to promote its services.

William Teasdale was the advertising manager of the LNER. Acting on behalf of the railway company, Teasdale was an important patron during the 1920s and 1930s. Teasdale was conscious of the full the scale and scope of the railway organisation and was adept at identifying themes and images that could become identified with the service provided. The patronage of Teasdale, and his successor Cecil Dandridge was, from the start, recognised as progressive, enlightened and effective.

In 1926, Teasdale invited his five most prominent poster designers to work exclusively for the railway. In addition, Teasdale guaranteed an annual level of fee income for each of the artists. The five artists were Tom Purvis, Austin Cooper, Fred Taylor, Frank Mason and Frank Newbould. Newbould was initially contracted to produce 5 posters per year for a fee of 500GBP. This was less than the contracts given to Purvis and Taylor.

Newbould was able to work in the tradition of flat-colour simplification and to position himself somewhere between Tom Purvis and Fred Taylor. Taylor’s themes were mostly architectural, whilst Purvis produced designs that were equally decorative and dramatic.

Teasdale and Dandridge were careful to allow each of these artists to develop their own distinctive style. In general Newbould produced designs for the Yorkshire coat and its resorts. His designs were distinguished by the bold use of flat colour and for a surrealistic sense of humour.

In addition to his work for the LNER, Newbould also designed posters for London Underground and for the Ideal Home Exhibition.

Army Bureau of Current Affairs

During WW2, Newbould worked as a colleague of Abram Games. Games was the official poster designer to the war office and was responsible for the graphic communications aimed at army servicemen and women. As the war progressed, there was an ever-increasing need for effective graphic communication. Newbould was appointed to assist Games in 1942.

During 1942, Games and Newbould each produced posters for the Army Bureau of Current Affairs (ABCA) under the title of “You Britain, Fight for it Now.” ABCA had been established to provide a forum in which officers and men could discuss the political, practical and philosophical meanings of the war with a view to providing a sophisticated form of motivational focus.

Accordingly, Games chose the progressive themes of housing, health and education. Newbould worked around the themes of landscape and people as understood through place and tradition. His posters showed the South Downs, Salisbury Cathedral, village life and the fun fair.

Frank Newbould died on 25th December, 1951. His wife, Jane, pre-deceased him in 1947.

Bibliography

Cole B & Durack R (1992) Railway Posters 1923-1947 London, Laurence King

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Ha Ha Ha…

This was on the BBC news page today, lovely.

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Railway Safety Posters • Brice Angrave • 1950s

Here are a set of small posters produced to encourage best-and-safe-practice on and around the station. These posters are by Bruce Angrave. They date from the early 1950s.

Here is a link to a page about Angrave, here

Bruce Angrave (b 1914; d.1983)

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