See Scotland by Train with vintage posters from the tracks at National Museum of Scotland

By Jenni Davidson | 10 April 2012
An image of a painting of two trains
The Coronation Scot is remembered in billboard form in Edinburgh© NRM Pictorial Collection - Science and Society Picture Library
Exhibition: See Scotland by Train, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until June 24 2012

Railway posters have created some of the most iconic images in the history of travel and lent aspiration and romanticism to visiting places close to home. Rail travel today may not quite have the allure it once did, but it still provides some memorable marketing campaigns.

The history of this promotion during the past 120 years is charted in this exhibition, featuring 30 posters which have never been on public display before. They show some of the most scenic locations in Scotland and are not only examples of advertising history, but works of art in themselves.

A highlight of the exhibition is Bryan de Grineau’s 1938 billboard-sized poster of the Coronation Scot, thought to be the only copy of the poster in existence.

There is also a section devoted to the Forth Rail Bridge, including the story of Terence Cuneo climbing the bridge in high winds to sketch it – and the resulting painting.

There have been four major changes in the railways in Scotland in a century: in 1923 the four big companies - London and North Eastern, London Midland and Scottish, the Southern Railway and Great Western Railway – merged; in 1948 the railways were nationalised to form British Railways; in 1994, they were privatised; in 1997, ScotRail was formed.

These changes had a profound influence of the promotion of rail travel. The posters grouped around these four periods document the changes in image.

The exhibition also contains other railway memorabilia and archive film of rail travel from the Scottish Screen Archive, going back as far as an 1897 film of a train crossing the Tay Bridge.

  • Open Monday-Sunday 10am-5pm. Admission free.
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