In 1951, with the looming threat of closure and increased competition, Edinburgh Corporation Transport published a series of posters to advertise the tram as a good way to get to Edinburgh Zoo. These took the form of an A to Z of animals that one might see. I thought I would share them here.
These posters are quite unusual as the Tramway had never really troubled to advertise themselves in this manner before this; there was no real reason to. There was no real bus competition as at this time and wherever the tramways and railways overlapped, the former was nearly always much quicker, cheaper and more regular. Indeed it was overwhelming competition from trams that had meant much of Edinburgh’s suburban rail system declined in the early part of the 20th century, with many station closures prior to 1950.
I like a lot of things about these posters. I like the rather old-fashioned (by 1951 standards) design, it’s much more reminiscent of pre-war, London Transport design. It’s formal, educational and easy on the sell. This small-c conservative style fits with the image I have of Edinburgh Corporation Tramways at this time; an institution that knows it probably doesn’t have much of a future, so it’s hanging on to the past. The posters were printed locally (Edinburgh was a centre of printing and publishing) but I’m afraid I haven’t uncovered who the artist was. The initials “J.R.S.” can be seen on some.
More of these used to be available for sale on Ebay as reprints (I even bought a couple), but I cannot now find them to fill in the rest of the alphabet. You can view and zoom in on these images on the website of Edinburgh Libraries and Museums and Galleries.
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