WebFind: Lost Posters on London Underground

Old posters in disused passageway at Notting Hill Gate tube station, 2010. Photo: London Underground

Old posters in disused passageway at Notting Hill Gate tube station, 2010. Photo: London Underground

Back in 2010, a hidden time capsule of various advertising posters – ranging from the Ideal Home Exhibition to Pepsodent toothpaste – was discovered in an abandoned part of a London Underground tube station, boarded up since 1959.

London Underground photographed the posters in situ found in a disused London Underground passenger tunnel at Notting Hill Gate Station during restoration work, which was accessed for the first time in 60 years.

They include a vintage 1959 “Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition” poster, held at Olympia, Underground and film posters, and more.

Lost Posters - Notting Hill Gate Station 2010. Photo: London Underground

Photo: London Underground

Lost Posters - Notting Hill Gate Station 2010. Photo: London Underground

Lost Posters – Notting Hill Gate Station 2010. Photo: London Underground

Lost Posters - Notting Hill Gate Station 2010. Photo: London Underground

Photo: London Underground

Lost Posters - Notting Hill Gate Station 2010. Photo: London Underground

Photo: London Underground

Lost Posters - Notting Hill Gate Station 2010. Photo: London Underground

Photo: London Underground

Found in an old lift passageway, date from between 1956 and 1959, when the station’s lifts were removed and replaced by escalators.

What a fascinating snapshot in time they are, although some are of course more worse for wear than others and I can’t help but wonder what this comic strip-styled poster was advertising…

Lost Posters - Notting Hill Gate Station 2010. Photo: London Underground

Photo: London Underground

Of course, it’s not the only treasure in the abandoned Underground or associated railway stations over the years. Opened on the Central Line in 1900 and permanently closed in 1933, this stunning photo by E.O. Hoppé, recently tweeted by Stuart “Babel Colour” Humphryes, shows the British Museum tube station, which once sat between Leicester Square and Goodge Street.

British Museum Underground station. Photo by E.O. Hoppe

British Museum Underground station. Photo by E.O. Hoppe

There are 270 functioning stations across the London Underground network, but at least 40 Overground and Underground stations still in existence are “Abandoned Stations”, no longer used for travel.

Closed for a variety of reasons, from low passenger numbers to re-routing, these stations have had interesting histories. Some offered a vital refuge throughout both world wars.

Transport for London notes these stations have also played a part in Britain’s cultural life. Aldwych station, for example, was used to house the National Gallery’s collection during World War One and British Museum artefacts (including the Elgin Marbles), during World War Two.

In more recent years, Aldwych has doubled up as a filming location for productions as diverse as The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ music video, and zombie movie, 28 Weeks Later.

Notting Hill Gate photographs via Mike Ashworth/ London Underground

WEB LINKS

• Mike Ashworth, the Design and Heritage Manager of London Underground has an album of these lost posters on Flickr. If you enjoy vintage design he’s well worth following

Transport for London regularly offers ‘Hidden London’ tours of sealed-off tube stations – full details here

London Underground Museum

Kuriositas: The Hidden Posters of Notting Hill Gate

This article has more details on many of the posters uncovered, including information on their designers and the companies and events featured

Euston: The Lost Tunnels

More tantalising glimpses of yesteryear

• Please note the posters at Notting Hill Gate, still in situ, are wholly inaccessible to the public, which is why they’ve probably survived 50 odd years. Please do not pester the station staff about them

Item with thanks to a kickstart from Stuart “Babel Colour” Humphryes

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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3 replies

  1. The old London Underground posters remind me of a visit I made to the long closed Wood Lane station near Shepherd’s Bush; on the same day to a long disused pedestrian tunnel at Shepherd’s Bush Central Line station. That was the 18th of September 1999. At the Wood Lane station were the defaced remains of a poster advertising – at the Stratford upon Avon Shakespeare Memorial Theatre – the 1947 Festival, starting on Easter Saturday, April 5th. The season was “Under the direction of Sir Barry Jackson”. From Wikipedia: “The 1947 season included Brook’s Romeo and Juliet and Benthall’s The Merchant of Venice. Neither received much praise from the critics, and the governors’ patience was tested again. This culminated in Sir Barry’s dramatic announcement of his retirement in January 1948. The governors did nothing to prevent his departure and had already decided on his successor, Anthony Quale. However, in three years Sir Barry had done much to restore the fortunes and reputation of the Theatre.”

    Another photo I took at Wood Lane was of badly defaced poster advertising a classical music event promoted by the “Covent Garden Estate”. It included The Rake’s Progress, and a work by Handel.

    As for the recently found poster that includes a piano accordion, it is an advertisement for what looks to be the London Dance (L ……..) in Oxford Street. A perusal of the London Kelly’s Directory of 1959 should find it. London Dance Lounge?

    The line at the top seems to end in ASSET! Perhaps DEVELOP AN ASSET? DANCE IS AN ASSET!

    Other wording looks like: “– Joe — Come in for FREE booklet on dancing”; and “You have made …… progress”.

    The “SAID GLADSTONE . . .” poster may be to do with owning a home. There appears to be a drawing of a house on the left of the text.

    A couple of years ago, I disposed of – at auction – a collection of more recent London Transport platform notices for passengers.

    • Since my 25 Jan 2020 email about the London Underground poster advertising a dance school, I have been in touch with the London Metropolitan Archives.

      Charlotte Hopkins sent me this detailed response:

      “We think that the poster may refer to the London Dance Institute (although it could have been referred to as the Dance Lounge at some point). We have a set of plans that refer to it as being located at 79-89 Oxford Street as per the below:

      GLC/AR/BR/17/079531 Montague Burton Limited, London Dance Institute, Dean Street, 79-89 Oxford Street, Westminster LB: Building Act case file (Ballrooms, Dance Halls,
      Department Stores and Tailors’ Shops) 1949-1966.

      From some research online, we know that this address became the Tiles Mod Club.

      You are most welcome to visit London Metropolitan Archives.”

      Typically, the dance school was above or next to a gents’ tailors; the symbiotic nature of the two businesses was commonplace.

    • Fantastic research! Thank you!

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