Old poster set to fetch £1,800

The railway poster advertising Whitley Bay which is up for auction.
The railway poster advertising Whitley Bay which is up for auction.

A RARE 80-year-old railway poster advertising Whitley Bay as a holiday destination is expected to sell for between £1,400 and £1,800 next week.

The 40in-by-50in poster, featuring an image of St Mary’s Lighthouse, was produced around 1930 for the London and North Eastern Railway by Seaton Carew-born artist Frank Henry Mason.

It is up for sale at Bloomsbury Auctions in London next Thursday.

If it does sell for £1,000 or more, it will become the third Whitley Bay railway poster to fetch a four-figure sum at auction in recent years.

The others include two British Railways posters that went under the hammer at Christie’s in London. One, an undated advert featuring the slogan ‘life is gay at Whitley Bay’, sold for £1,020 in 2006, and the other, a 1957 ad, fetched £1,250.

Those figures are considerably more than Mason was paid back in his day.

Between 1927 and 1929, he was paid an exclusive retainer to produce posters for LNER guaranteeing him £350 a year, a figure increased in 1930 to £450 a year.

Mason was then one of the LNER’s so-called ‘Big Five’ group of poster artists, along with Tom Purvis, Frank Newbould, Austin Cooper and Fred Taylor.

In the early and middle parts of the 20th century, when comparatively few people owned cars and when overseas travel was beyond the financial reach of most holidaymakers, railway companies commissioned artists to produce colourful, eye-catching posters of seaside resorts, beauty spots and places of historical interest in a bid to boost rail travel throughout Britain.

These posters, which once adorned railway station platforms and waiting rooms, are becoming increasingly sought-after and valuable mementos of a gentler by-gone era.

Frank Henry Mason was 89 when he died of a heart attack at the Dreadnought hospital for seamen at Greenwich, London, on February 24, 1965. He was born at Seaton Carew on March 27, 1875.

St Mary’s Lighthouse and adjacent keepers’ cottages were built in 1898. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1984.