Sex sells


Poster artists of the 1920s and 30s often included beautiful young women in swimsuits to promote the places they were selling. These are very modest images by today’s standards – long before bikinis, public images of nudity or online porn….

This poster by Septimus E Scott for the London Midland & Scottish Railway dates back to 1923 and features a girl perched precariously on a high diving board, giving an added frisson of danger. Her gaze, thrown seductively over her left shoulder, seems to be inviting the viewer to join her. Though maybe not if they suffer from vertigo judging by the height of that diving board.

For the sake of balance we did look to see if we could find an equivalent image of a young man in a swimsuit. No luck so far….

© The Great Brunel Railway Company 2018

Poster image courtesy of National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library   

Wienholts Bakery


We are delighted to have now completed the fourth poster to make up our Alderley Edge Collection: Wienholts Bakery. Its shop, which was built in 1900, stands on the corner of London Road and Clifton Street  – just two minutes walk from Alderley Edge station.

This family-run bakery can trace its history back to the 1860s, when a young confectioner called Ferdinand Wienholdt came to Britain from Lubeck in Germany and settled in Manchester. Five generations later the Wienholt family still runs the business and has been in its present premises for over 50 years.

The bakery shop only opens on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. But, as the Wienholt family and staff will be quick to point out, that’s not because they take Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. That’s just when they do their baking.

On their opening days it is not unusual to find queues of loyal customers waiting to buy Wienholts’ fine patisserie and traditional pies. If you should happen to come along at a busy time make sure you grab a numbered ticket. Otherwise you may never get to the front of the line. And of course make sure you admire our Great Brunel Railway poster on the wall facing the counter!

£10 from each poster will be donated to the two local good causes we are supporting in the village of Alderley Edge:

  • St Philip & St James Church Restoration Appeal, and
  • RVS Luncheon Club, which provides lunches twice a week for older people in Alderley Edge and its surrounding areas.

This poster is available in a limited edition of 150 giclée prints on 310gsm artist’s paper, individually numbered, embossed and signed by the artist.

They are available framed or unframed. Framed posters are professionally made with a 30mm wood surround – available in either matt black, matt white, or natural oak. All feature a pale cream mount. Overall size when framed is 75cm x 62cm (29.5ins x 24.5ins).

St Philip & St James Church, Alderley Edge


The much loved Parish Church of Alderley Edge was built in 1853, with the spire and south aisle added few years later. It has been awarded Grade 2* status and is a prominent landmark in the village.

Every five years the church is inspected and the last time this was done it was found that the Victorian ironwork in the spire had rusted, causing cracking to the stone work. The affected metal and damaged stone urgently need to be replaced. This is a complex process, requiring careful structural planning.

The revised cost to carry out these works and  re-organise inside the back of the Church is £415,000. A daunting amount of money. But once the work is done the church will not only have a fully restored spire. It will also have a new disabled loo, a refreshment station and a permanent historical display.

The church has already raised £83,000 through various fund raising events. Just before Christmas they heard that they had also been awarded Heritage Lottery Funding. But that still leaves them £44,000 short of the total money they need.

If we can sell all of the four Limited Edition Great Brunel Railway Company posters then we will be able to contribute £3,000 to that £44,000 shortfall.

So that’s our target. Please help us achieve it – by buying one of our four Limited Edition posters of Alderley Edge. Each one purchased will allow us to contribute £10 to the church’s restoration fund…..

Spring on the Edge


The depths of winter may seem a strange time to publish a new poster showing Alderley Edge bathed in Spring sunshine. But perhaps this is the time when we most need reminding that Spring is just round the corner.

There may be no leaves on the trees right now and the weather may be damp and cold. But it won’t be long till the days draw out, till we’re putting the clocks forward and new-born lambs are once again out in the fields below the Edge.

This new poster is inspired by the iPad ‘paintings’ of David Hockney. It was created freehand on an iPad at the location which is shown in the picture. It’s one of our favourite spots – the view as you approach the Edge from the footpath off the Mottram Road, near its junction with Hough Lane.

It’s not a well-known part of the Edge, but very beautiful, especially during lambing season.

Catching the moment

Festival Hall Poster_1

Festival-HallSometimes a poster can catch the mood of a place at a point of transition, for example when a popular and long-standing building is about to be demolished.

The Festival Hall in Alderley Edge, Cheshire is  a case in point. Built to provide a venue for the village’s annual Music Festival, its striking Art Deco facade has graced the area for almost 100 years. Still heavily used but now a little run-down, the front of the building is about to be knocked down to make way for a state-of-the-art new Medical Centre, which the community desperately needs.

The building’s future has been secured and it will continue to provide a home for local organisations from bowling clubs through dog training classes to brass band concerts. But there will be many who will regret the passing of the old building’s facade.

This poster – which uses the colour theme of Obama’s HOPE campaign poster created by Sheppard Fairey – represents the passing of the old and the welcoming in of the new. A touch of nostalgia perhaps but one which catches the moment.

The Boxer’s Punch


Most of the Poster artists of the 1920s and 30s used their skills to depict a full range of subjects. They didn’t just work for the railways. Tom Purvis is a good example, and this poster for Austin Reed’s shows him using his characteristic  areas of bold flat colour in the world of men’s fashion.

Explaining his philosophy Purvis said:

A poster’s job is to convey its message clearly and at once. It is essential to get the message completely comprehended by the spectator in not more than three seconds. A good poster should not puzzle people: it should be like the Boxer’s punch – straight, hard and quick – and should deliver its message in a flash……

He was willing to shock and offend people’s sense of aesthetic taste, if need be:

The only result of trying to please everyone….is that, in the end, the work will be so innocuous that no one will ever take any notice of it at all….A bold stroke will attract attention even if it does not please everybody.


Image and text taken from The Technique of the Poster by Leonard Richmond, 1933

Old railway posters auctioned for £1800


Thirty nine posters dating back to the 1920s have sold for £22,000, more than double the estimate, at Curr and Dewar’s auction in Dundee on 28th January.

The posters, which came to market as a result of a house clearance, covered a number of themes including Trooping The Colour, The Forth Bridge, Dunfermline Abbey, Tynemouth, Yorkshire Dales and East Anglia amongst others. The highest hammer price was £1800, achieved by Troon (“The Golfers Delight”)Troon_prod_1 vs an estimate of £500 to £800. A poster of Tynemouth by the artist Alfred Lambert also fetched £1800, compared to an estimate of just £300-500. Most posters sold for £500-700.

Included in the auction were also a number of Empire Marketing Board posters from the same era. Some great images and wonderful themes from another age, even if they’re not always ones that sit so comfortably with us today.

The EMB posters tend to be smaller than the railway posters and this was reflected in their lower prices (around £200).


© The Great Brunel Railway Company 2014.

Poster image courtesy of National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

New Poster: Alderley Edge


Contemporary travel posters can be created in any medium from coloured crayons through acrylics to digital media. This one was initially created on an iPad.

Founded in 1947, Granthams of Alderley Edge stands proudly on a corner off Heyes Lane, a mile from the centre of the village. Still family-run by Mike and Gill Grantham, the shop is famous for its delicatessen foods, as well as its wide selection of artisan cheeses – over 150 of them. The shop runs regular tasting days, often themed on a particular country, where not just cheeses, but wines, sauces and other deli food can be sampled Granthams

Geoff Hall has focused on  Grantham’s beautifully painted hand cart, which sits proudly outside the shop displaying a wide selection of locally grown organic fruit and veg.

New Poster: Warsaw


PrintKamila Kasperowicz is a Polish artist and graphic designer now living and working in the UK. A graduate of the University of Silesia, she is currently studying for her PhD in Graphic Design and it’s understandable that she should think of travel destinations in her home country for  her first travel posters.

Warsaw needs no introduction, of course: it’s the capital of Poland and its largest city. Now a major tourist destination, it is hard to believe that it suffered so much damage during the Second World War that fewer than a quarter of its buildings were left standing in 1945.

In fact Warsaw has survived so many wars throughout its history that it is sometimes called the “Phoenix” city, constantly re-emerging from its own ashes. Kamila Kasperowicz has captured something of the city’s fragmented history in this poster, and she also celebrates the city’s landmarks and palaces near its centre.

The poster is now available as a Limited edition of 250, individually numbered and signed by the artist.

Simple but sophisticated


Bridlington by Tom Purvis, is a perfect example of the travel poster artist’s skills: simple flat areas of colour, very precise lines and careful composition of images – a scene that is idealised and yet completely believable.

Created by the commercial artist, Tom Purvis for the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1932, the poster depicts the seaside town of Bridlington, located on the north east coast of England. Popular with families as a holiday destination between the two World Wars, it’s better known today (until his recent move back to LA) as the home of the internationally renowned artist, David Hockney.

Purvis was a highly professional illustrator and designer, and he campaigned for higher professional standards in the industry. In 1930 he was one of a group of artists who founded the Society of Industrial Artists, which pressed for better training for commercial artists. In 1936 he became one of the first Royal Designers for Industry.

Bridlington_SSPL_10174029_Comp-1It’s always good with posters to imagine the artist faced with a blank canvas. What made him (or her) choose what to put in the picture and how to compose it? Purvis is a master of economic and precise artwork and this poster is deceptively skilful.

At its centre is the little girl and (we guess) her baby brother, both sporting brimmed hats to protect them from the intense heat of the sun. (Bright sunshine can happen in Bridlington, but the town is not famous for its cloudless skies and searing heat). The little boy’s straw hat is particularly fetching – bright yellow with stalks of straw sticking out at the edges. Both figures are silhouetted against a cloudless blue sky. The pink/orange colour of their skin suggests a suntan so perfect that even today it could only be achieved in a spray booth.

It’s a touching scene, innocent and warm. The little boy is splashing in the water  and we can imagine that it’s his first time ever on a beach. His mouth is open as though he is giggling with pleasure. His sister is bent forward solicitously, her arms outstretched to stop him falling over. In the background there are more people on the beach, visible behind the gently rolling line of the sea.

Further back again, silhouetted in white against the blue sky are the outlines of the seaside buildings – highly exaggerated domes of the Spa Pavilion and others, which lend a middle eastern exoticism to this very English scene.  In the far background there is a small green kite, and a Union Jack flag flutters in the gentle breeze – a breeze no doubt welcomed by the visitors from northern English industrial cities unaccustomed to such intense heat.

Purvis creates this heartwarming scene with remarkably little detail. We don’t see facial features at all. He uses only four colours: yellow, pink/orange, blue and green. What Purvis does so cleverly is use the white of the paper as a fifth colour. The girl’s hat and sundress, the sea in which they’re paddling, the water splashes and the silhouette of the buildings are all in white, set against the strong blue of the background. The bold lettering for Bridlington is also white against the blue sky – integrated into the picture by cutting across, and melting into, the back of the girl’s sun hat.

Simple but very sophisticated.

© The Great Brunel Railway Company 2014.   Poster image courtesy of National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library