As a nation, despite our grumbling about the state of the railway system and its operation, deep down we seem collectively to continue to have a close affection for ideas of design in the railways in Britain. Quite apart from the engineering aspects of the railway, rolling stock, engines and the perceived romanticism of bygone rail travel, the architecture and form of the infrastructure and the visual communication methods deployed by the rail companies themselves continue to have a distinct ‘heritage’ aesthetic, even when newly created. There has long been a tradition in railway advertising of using historic sites at locations which the railway served or passed by.
This has been seen most recently in advertising campaign rolled out by GWR – itself a relaunched heritage brand harking back to the days before British Rail (also a distinct heritage brand with a very strong design heritage). The advertising seen across the rail network in the west of England and in the London termini have drawn on the classic childrens’ literature aesthetic centred around Enid Blyton’s Famous Five to create a sense of adventure, discovery, social relations, holidays and the idea of it being fun to travel by rail. Various buildings and landscapes across the south west have been depicted as well, producing an interesting layering of heritage messages and associations with this form of travel
As a follow-up to David’s post on Smailholm Tower, in my own collection I have a couple of publications to fill in some gaps. Historic Scotland had moved to producing colour covers for its guides during the mid-1980s during it’s latter years as part of the Scottish Development Department when greater commercial expectations were being made of the Historic Buildings & Monuments department, and the Historic Scotland brand was emerging. (As an aside, the Scottish Development Department has it’s own interesting organisational history, explored in part by Ian Levitt in 1996 in a paper in Scottish Affairs).
The guide runs to 16 pages, comprising an Introduction, History, Tour, and Exhibition section on the costume figures collection which had been “presented by the Saltire Society to the Secretary of State for Scotland in 1983 for permanent display in Smailholm Tower.” [my italics] This guide also carries the logo of Gateway supermarkets as a supporter and sponsor (advertising considered in a previous post). A price code is noted on the back cover, as opposed to a set cost which would limit the ability to change the selling price of the guide without a full reprint.
Chris Tabraham (Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments, and author of a number of publications) is the author of the guide, first published in 1985, and in its second impression with amendments in 1989 (pictured). This version of the guide still forms the basis of another revision in 2007 into the modern Historic Scotland guidebook format considered in the previous post on Smailholm, but which still notes that it was first published by HMSO in 1985.
In 1993, Historic Scotland reprinted the Excavation Report for Smailholm which had been published in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 118 (1988), authored by Chris Tabraham and George Good. This was sold at the site (very reasonably, in comparison to many excavation reports) as an additional option to the guidebook. Whilst focusing on archaeological investigations carried out between 1979 and 1981, the publication provides further historical and architectural context for the Tower.
Dartmouth Castle was placed in the care of the Office of Works in 1909, although the War Office retained the right to use the structure. It was finally placed in State Guardianship in 1970.
B.H. St. John O’Neil wrote the first guide to the castle in 1934, followed by a paper guide in 1951. It was followed by a Ministry of Public Buildings and Works souvenir guide in 1965. This was written by A.D. Saunders. The printer was W.S. Cowell of the Butter Market, Ipswich. This guide took the format: Introduction; Early Defences; The Building of the Castle; Kingswear Castle; Bayard’s Cove; Sixteenth-Century Repairs and Additions; The Civil War; Later History; Description.
Saunders’ guide continued into the period of English Heritage. It was reprinted in 1983, with a second edition in 1988. This carried the branding of Gateway supermarkets. The format was altered, starting with a description and then the history. An expanded third edition appeared in 1991.
The 1937 Office of Works Official Guide for The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Abbey and Environs contained a number of advertisements which paint a picture of Edinburgh at the time.
Apart from the Motor Coach Tours and Edinburgh Rock confectionery already referred to in a previous post, a double page spread contains advertisements for Government Publications produced by His Majesty’s Stationery Office, Scotch oatmeal, and antiques.
The most interesting advertisement is for James Gray & Son, Ironmonger, which features Battleship Teakwood garden seats for sale. These would have been sourced from specialist manufacturers which produced lines which effectively ‘upcycled’ materials from the military. Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History provides the example of Hughes, Bolckow and Co. Battleship Breakers as a potential source for this heritage garden furniture.
HMSO, which for many years was the main provider of Government agency heritage site guides, used an advertising slot on this page, and also the inside back page (full page) to advertise its range of publications. The language of the advert is itself interesting, flagging the ‘authoritative’ credentials of the publisher.
One of my top Christmas presents this year was the 1937 Office of Works guidebook to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. [The present giver was rather pleased as the publication year matched their own birth date.]
The guidebook is interesting for a number of reasons, not least as it is more comprehensive than later editions (such as the guides of 1950 and 1968), running to a weighty 160 pages, with six chapters of wider ‘historical sketch’ putting the Palace into context.
It was authored by the Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell, who is described colourfully in the ODNB [link behind subscription paywall] as having “…a charming, if too facile, pen, but such remarkable versatility precluded deep research.” Not so, perhaps, in this extensive guide for the visitor. He held Rhind lectureships in archaeology at Edinburgh in 1893 and 1911, was President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland between 1900–13, and chaired the National Library of Scotland from 1925–32. He died, aged 92, in the year that the guidebook was published.
The guidebook is notable also for its textured cover (unlike many other Office of Works guides of the period), and inclusion of a number of pages of advertising. This includes a quirky insight into what may be considered an important part of the tourist itinerary for Edinburgh at the time – a coach tour of the town, taking in “..several outstanding places of historical interest, such as …University and Royal Infirmary..” !
The back cover features an advertisement for classic examples of Scottish confectionery, highlighting Edinburgh Rock (available in Tartan).
Twenty thousand copies of this edition of the Official Guide were published.