All Aboard for Wembley!

It's the time of year when the Challenge Cup gets serious. And to celebrate, we're taking a look at the forgotten London Transport posters that advertised travel to the Cup Final from 1929, when it was moved to Wembley, to 1939.

From the early part of the 20th Century, London Transport and its forerunners encouraged creativity among its designers. During the inter-war years its design department and the artists it commissioned produced some of the most interesting commercially-based art in the UK. You can find the online exhibition of London Transport art here.

The posters for events at Wembley were one small part of this output, which also included many other sports such as soccer, rugby union, cricket and ice hockey. The first rugby league poster of 1929 (below) was designed by Dorothy Paton, a member of the Society of Women Artists who had exhibited three paintings at the Royal Academy. She clearly could not differentiate between rugby league and rugby union!

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Charles Burton's 1930 design was his only league poster, but its use of lines, in this case from the two spotlights, were a common motif in his work.

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Perhaps the most interesting posters were produced by Heather 'Herry' Perry, who produced the 1931 (above), 1933 and 1935 posters (there was no 1932 poster as that year's final was staged at Wigan). The first is a startling depiction of players as semi-naked Greek athletes, a bold move for a woman artist in the 1930s.

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Perry's 1933 poster is much more conventional, yet it still conveys life and movement. Unlike some of the artists she also appears to be aware that league was not union (a confusion seen in the 1929 poster) and shows a league scrum.

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The 1934 poster was designed by Scottish artist Anna Katrina Zinkeisen, who also painted murals on the Queen Mary. It is very similar in concept to the 1936 poster but uses one of her favourite devices of two players to emphasise action.

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Herry Perry's final rugby league poster of 1935 was again very different from her previous two. It is less abstract and may well have been based on a photograph of a match - the players loitering in the background seem too natural to be invented.

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The 1936 poster is rather derivative of that of 1934 and was the work of Eric Lombers, whose style was generally more abstract than most of the London Transport designers - his 1939 FA Cup Final poster is a classic. He also desigend the poster for the infamous 1934 England versus Germany match at White Hart Lane.

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Gill Lancaster only designed four posters for London Transport but the above poster for the 1937 Cup Final is easily the best, highlighting both the stadium and the activity and movement of the players.

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The lacklustre 1938 and 1939 posters (shown below) were both the work of Yorkshire artists - Brian Robb from Scarborough and Sheffield-born Charles Mozley respectively - and are by far the weakest of the series.

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When the Cup Final resumed at Wembley after the end of World War Two, London Transport no longer felt the need to advertise, possibly because the match had come to be seen as almost an exclusively northern day-out in the capital.

But one of the less well-known  legacies of the 1929 decision to move the Cup Final to London was these wonderful posters - all of which are available to buy from the London Transport Museum Shop.

-- This was originally published at rugby reloaded.com on 6 May 2011.