Classic Tube posters reimagined for 160th anniversary of London Underground

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  • April 4, 2023
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our classic Tube posters that celebrate London’s cultural life have been “reimagined” to mark the 160th anniversary of the Underground.

The Tube is regarded as the “biggest free gallery in the world” and its artwork, from architecture to posters, maps and the famous Tube roundel, have long sparked admiration, comment and occasional criticism.

Four posters from the London Transport Museum’s collection have been revamped – those featuring the English National Opera, London Symphony Orchestra, Southbank Centre and the Royal Opera House.

They will be displayed across 80 Tube stations between April 10 and 28. Prints can be bought from the museum’s shop.

The posters are:

*For the Sunday Concerts by Fred Taylor, first published in 1912. It promotes using the Tube to enjoy a Sunday concert. The new version promotes the LSO, now resident at the Barbican.

LSO poster

/ London Transport Museum

*Pantomimes, Plays and Picture by Charles Atkinson, 1933. This “celebrates the merriment of London’s pantomimes, plays and cinemas”. The new version mentions the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, home to The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera.

Royal Opera House poster

/ London Transport Museum

* Just because you’ve finished work it doesn’t mean it’s curtains for your travel card by Trevor Caley, 1986 – a vibrant mosaic that pays homage to London’s theatres and stage venues. The reimagined version pays homage to the English National Opera, the resident opera company of the London Coliseum.

The ENO poster

/ London Transport Museum

* Simply London by Tube and bus by Jake Sutton, 1999 – a watercolour commissioned by London Transport for a poster campaign titled ‘Simply Travel’. It promotes the Southbank Centre.

Southbank Centre poster

/ London Transport Museum

Justine Simons, Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor for culture, said the posters showed how Frank Pick, the legendary first boss of what was then the London Passenger Transport Board, had “created a design DNA across the whole of the Tube” from 1908 onwards.

She said: “I love these posters because they bring to life the amazing heritage in the London transport system. Arguably the Tube is the biggest gallery in the world.

“These posters are just a small part of that amazing heritage and the way in which the transport system and the cultural world work in this beautiful symbiotic way to celebrate what is great about our city.”

Ms Simons said the artwork could distract from Tube delays. “When you are a passenger standing on a platform, if you are looking at artwork, you imagine that you are standing there for less time than you actually are, because you are distracted and you are interested,” she told the Standard.

“It just brings to life the architecture of the Tube, it gives you something to focus on and takes you out into another kind of space. That is the great thing about art and culture – it brings new perspectives and allows you to see the world differently.

“If we can bring that to the travelling public for free, every day, on the transport system, it’s a beautiful thing.”

TfL commissioner Andy Lord said the posters showed how Londoners were encouraged to use the Tube to visit the city’s cultural attractions.

“The artwork that has adorned the walls of our transport network is as much a part of London’s history as the Tube itself,” he said.

Previous events linked to the 160th anniversary included the reimagining of the classic Tube roundel with one that read “Love The Tube”.