Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tom Gilfillan

My previous post featured a travel poster with artwork by Tom Gilfillan. I'm a huge fan of these 1930s railway travel posters and if I had the money and the wall space, my walls would be covered with them.

I've already got two up (both originals which I bought off eBay) - one advertising the Ardrishaig Mail with artwork by Norman Wilkinson and the other the Fast Route to Skye via Armadale by Alasdair Macfarlane. Neither of these are railway posters, strictly speaking, but they recall an era when the railway was the mode of travel par excellence and other modes of public transport such as steamers and buses were designed to dovetail in round the railway.

Sorry about the poor photography catching the reflections in the glass but the ship on the left is MacBrayne's SS Saint Columba which served the Ardrishaig Mail service from Gourock to Ardrishaig from 1936 to 1958 while the ship on the right is MV Loch Seaforth which was the Stornoway mail steamer from Mallaig and Kyle from 1947 to 1972.

I've also got two Tom Gilfillan postcards in clip frames by my desk:-

Now I'm not much of an art connoisseur but these are my sort of art - to me, the puffy white clouds convey limpid, languid long hot summer's days.

The first picture is Iona and the second is Staffa. The ship in both cases is MacBrayne's MV Lochfyne of 1931. From 1931 to 1935, she took the cruise from Oban round Mull via Tobermory to Iona and Staffa, the route which would later become more closely associated with the SS King George V.

Note that in the second picture the Lochfyne has a grey hull. This is because, in 1928, MacBrayne's was bought from the MacBrayne family by Coast Lines - the company which dominated coastal shipping on the Irish Sea at the time - with a 50% investment from the London Midland & Scottish Railway Company. The new management attempted what would now be called a "re-branding" exercise painting the ships' hulls grey but it didn't last and they were soon back to their traditional black after a few years.

For those interested in minutiae, note how the poster in the last post (which also shows the Lochfyne with a grey hull) gives the company as "David MacBrayne (1928) Ltd". This was the name of the new company incorporated by Coast Lines and the LMSR after the takeover. The "(1928)" was dropped after a few years once the old company owned by the MacBrayne family had been formally wound up.

I'll get back to Stromeferry in the next post (unless something else catches my eye meantime!).

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