London Tube Posters that Tell you Off

Tuesday September 19, 2017 Written by Suzi

Since the 1920s, London Transport has famously commissioned some of the world's top artists to create their posters – which as well as being eye-catching, are also quite funny and sometimes outrageously offensive. These posters, recently published as a complete online collection, pack quite a punch when it comes to persuading commuters to obey rules such as not asking stupid questions and not standing on their seats.

There was the 1918 blame-and-shame approach, best highlighted by the fervent declaration that “A door obstructor is a selfish person”.

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And the messaging was always inclusive, as in, everyone was equally discriminated against. They were not opposed to an occasional spot of fat-shaming, mother-shaming or prejudice against people who carry a lot of bags…

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They also trialled a series of posters that provided a detailed mathematical reasoning behind their requests.

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They targeted commuters who ask stupid questions…

London Tube posters 03

... and they really took the time to break it down for people.

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By the 80s, London Transport had expanded its list of rules to include modern examples of deviance, such as loud “personal stereos”...

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... and litter-buggery.

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Then there was that time the Underground had to respond to the 1992 epidemic of commuters who had forgotten how to sit on their actual bottoms.

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Finally, this poster had us stumped but we thought we’d share it with you regardless. Tell us on Facebook if you have a theory on what exactly the take-home message is here.

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You can view around 700 original posters from the London Transport Museum’s collection and can also read up on the designers and artists who produced them, from the 1920s to today.