Harold F Hutchison and the pair poster - online essay
Christian Barman was Publicity Officer for London Transport between 1935 and 1941. Due to the cut backs of the Second World War, Harold F Hutchison was not appointed to this role until 1947.
The circumstances of post war London demanded a new chapter of LT publicity. As well as repairing London Transport's systems, Hutchison recognised the importance of restoring faith in the public they served.
Hutchison's new approach to publicity can be seen in Misha Black and John Barker's poster, London Transport at London's Service. The distinctive bar and circle logo, known as the roundel, had come to signify every aspect of London Transport's activities. Black and Barker portray the roundel as a planet, projecting light and hope onto the war-torn city.
In 1950 Hutchison wrote a publicity policy, stating the function of London Transport posters to be: 'London Transport's information window, through which we tell the public what we do and what we hope to do; what we expect of our staff and what we appreciate from our public...'
Hutchison used the pair poster format to realise his aims. This was an innovative system whereby a poster was designed in two halves; one for an image and one for text. This afforded the designer more artistic freedom and the copywriter sufficient space to explain the commercial purpose of the poster. Designs had been produced as two halves before the war, although they had been predominantly image based. Hutchison standardised the format and positioned examples on prime sites such as Underground station entrances.
In the 1950s more direct advertising media were beginning to overshadow poster publicity. The annual number of London Transport poster commissions dropped to seven or eight. Hutchison commissioned leading artists and designers of the day in order to retain the highest possible quality, including Edward Bawden, William Roberts, Abram Games and Tom Eckersley, Hutchison retired in 1966.
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Passengers coming into St Pancras station in the 1980s would be greeted by posters like this encouraging them to travel across the city on Underground lines . It's also the inspiration for our Open Weekend artwork!