1914 Railway Station

iandewar's picture


I've been reading the forum here off and on for a couple of years and found that you're a very helpful bunch...so here's a question from me.

I'm involved in the production of a film titled "The Waiting Room" part of which is set on a British railway station during the Great War (1914-1918). The film investigates the paranormal and the original type for the title had a ghostly feel, however the Director would now like to use something a little less ghostly and use something which reflects the period more appropriately.

Now if there is a specific typeface for railway stations of the period that would be terrific...unless it was too modern! I get the feeling that an audience for this film would expect a serif type of some description. What's more the railway station would probably have been built in the late Victorian or Edwardian period and not repainted and updated with new signage for a while.

So expectations are more important than accuracy. One final thing, whatever font is chosen needs to be readily and cheaply available...the movie budget disappeared on hiring a steam train!

Thanks in advance,


Justin_Ch's picture

British railway signage of this period would most likely be a sans, or with very small copperplate-style serifs, , but hand-lettered. Greater Albion's Chipperly is based on Edwardian railway lettering and is cheap. Jim Parkinson's Modesto has some weights that would be good too.

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

Although frequently used for the Underground, you might want to take a look at Johnston (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnston_%28typeface%29), otherwise Gill Sans.

oldnick's picture

Period-wise, this font would fit the style and your budget ($7.95 US)...


and, if you need to create period posters posters, this one is based on British rail posters of the day (and it's free)...


Nick Cooke's picture

You could use Johnston as it was brand new then, but not Gill Sans.

Nick Shinn's picture

Gill's WH Smith lettering:


The colors were cream on dark green.
This is a photo from the 1930s, but the style is unchanged from the original of 1905.

WH Smith stalls were in nearly all the British railway stations.

John Nolan's picture

Following Nick, see Gill Facia.

Nick Shinn's picture

The Smith lettering is really quite elegant; I prefer Paul Shaw's Cresci and Pontif to Facia.

The WH Smith story is fascinating.
Among other accomplishments, Smiths was arguably the first advertising agency, designing and selling poster campaigns nationwide in railway stations in the 1850s.
Smith's 1905 corporate identity (at a time when such things were only just emerging) was strongly informed by St. John Hornby's (their managing director) work as a private press printer — a hobbyist, but much respected. The lettering was Gill's first public success, at age 23.


Té Rowan's picture

Browsing through the Paul J. Lloyd collection on typOasis might give you ideas for incidental use, too.

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