Part of the capital’s street scene for more than 80 years until their last journey in July 1952, London’s trams formed the biggest network in Europe, ferrying sightseers and commuters to the city’s iconic landmarks and back again, and giving rise to some
Running until 1952, London’s trams connected the city’s iconic attractions and gave rise to a series of graphic posters
1 This poster dates from 1932, when among the many highlights for visitors to the zoo was Winnie, a black bear from Winnipeg, who inspired AA Milne’s Winnie-the-pooh. Winnie, a very friendly bear, had been at the zoo since 1914 when his Canadian cavalry vet owner went to fight in France. Other residents included Sumba and Sumbawa, the first Komodo dragons in Europe.
2 This 1933 ad highlights various London sights, including Tower Bridge, St Paul’s and the coronation chair at Westminster Abbey. Tourists of the time might have expected Edward VIII to be the next to take his seat there, as George V’s eldest son, but his coronation, planned for 12 May 1937, was abandoned when he abdicated to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson later that year. His brother Albert became George VI on that day instead – ‘same date, different king’ he wryly remarked.
3 Dating from 1933, RF Fordred’s picture of the southern reaches of the Thames encourages travellers to enjoy a bit of boating. Putney Bridge would have been a great vantage point from which to see Cambridge win the boat race on 1 April of that year, defeating Oxford for the 10th year in succession.
4 Christmas shopping in London by tram in 1928 looks an altogether more pleasant and less crowded experience than it is these days, although we can still experience Selfridges, Harrods, Liberty and Hamleys just as the happy shoppers of the 1920s – and many before them – would have done.
5 West End theatregoers in 1923 could have enjoyed Noël Coward’s first play I’ll Leave It To You, starring the playwright himself, or George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan at the Garrick. The bright colours and top hats in the poster, designed at the LCC Central School of Arts and Crafts, bear more than a passing resemblance to Toulouse Lautrec’s Paris works.
6 GS Brien’s striking graphics for the British Museum route in 1927 would have lured visitors to an exhibition of Sumerian antiquities from Ur, in the Department of Egyptian & Assyrian Antiquities. Also on show were drawings and engravings by William Blake,
Chinese frescoes, and manuscripts and books on the history of agriculture – then, as now, something for everyone.