From the end of the 19th century the railway companies steadily increased the marketing of their networks to entice the tourist and holidaymaker. When talking of railway advertising, many people automatically tend to think of the vast number of very attractive pictorial posters produced to promote holiday destinations around the country. However, posters were just one part of the marketing efforts of the railway companies, as many also began to publish tourist and holiday guides. I’ve shown a few examples of these pre-grouping guides below.
Top left – Glasgow & South Western Railway ‘Summer tours’ 1909. Object no. 2000-7024
Top centre – Great Eastern Railway ‘Sun Pictures of the Norfolk Broads’ by Payne Jennings 1897. Object no. 2000-7651
Top right – ‘The Official Illustrated Holiday Guide to the North Staffordshire Railway’ by George Moores 1891. Object no. 1999-8083
Bottom – Furness Railway ‘The English Lake Land – The Paradise of Tourists’ 1916. Object no. 1999-7700
Probably the most prolific producer of such guides was the Great Western Railway, which began publishing a guide entitled ‘Holiday Haunts’ in 1906. This publication was heavily illustrated with photographs, and as well as providing a guide to the many destinations the GWR served, also provided large amounts of information about accommodation available in “Hotels, Boarding Houses, Farm Houses & Country Lodgings”.
‘Holiday Haunts’ was very successful and achieved a circulation running into hundreds of thousands.
The railways had amalgamated into four main companies after the 1923 grouping, and by the 1930s each company was producing huge amounts of publicity material. The success of Holiday Haunts was noted by the other major companies, who all produced their own holiday guides based very closely on the format of the Great Western publication.
Top left – Southern Railway ‘Hints for Holidays 1935’ (Cover illustration of bathing belle by Horace Taylor). Object no. 2000-8672
Top centre – LNER ‘The Holiday Handbook 1939’ (Cover illustration of bathing beauty by M. Dickins) Object no. 2000-8667
Top left – ‘Holidays by LMS’ 1930. Object no. 2000-8076
Bottom – ‘Holiday Haunts on the Great Western Railway’ 1906. The guide that started a trend! Object no. 2000-7619
After the railways were nationalised in 1948, British Railways continued to produce a large amount of publicity to promote holiday travel. This included the perpetuation of the Holiday Haunts format and name, which was used for guides to all the BR regions, including this one for Scotland in 1962. Object no. 2000-8706
By the 1960s, use of the railways by holidaymakers was reducing significantly. Private car ownership became widespread and the rapid development of air travel meant that package holidays to foreign climes became more appealing and accessible to the British public. As a result, the traditional railway tourist guide died out.
BR still produced publicity to appeal to leisure travellers, but this usually consisted of smaller leaflets and booklets concentrating on specific destinations or events, and promoting cheap fares. We have a collection of such material within our archives, and have massively increased the amount of the modern publicity material that we hold through the acquisition of the Forsythe Collection of Travel & Transport Publicity Ephemera in 2009.
I hope that these two posts have provided a taste of the tourist and holiday guides we hold within our library and archive collections. There is so much material that it is difficult to do any more than scratch the surface of the subject in such a short space! If you do want to see any of the items featured, or any other items, just call into Search Engine, our research and archive centre, the next time you visit the museum.