British Airways: 100 Years Of Aviation Posters

A look at a collection of 100 posters from BA and its predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways, BEA and BOAC.

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British Airways 100 Years Of Aviation Posters (Image Credit: Amberley Publishing)
British Airways 100 Years Of Aviation Posters (Image Credit: British Airways)

In the very early days of commercial aviation, the principal means by which airlines advertised their services was the poster.

American Airlines, Braniff International Airways, Pan American World Airways, Swissair, Trans World Airways, United Airlines and many others all used the medium to great effect. This was not only to sell the relatively new idea of flying to a small constituency of wealthy travellers, but also their respective fleets and route networks, to passengers in their home markets and around the world.

In his latest book on British Airways, Paul Jarvis has selected 200 posters from a collection of over 1,000 posters from BA’s near 100 year history.

It begins with a poster from the very first BA predecessor airline, Aircraft Transport & Travel, which operated the first commercial air service from London to Paris on 25 August 1919.

The book also features an extensive collection of posters from other predecessor airlines including Imperial Airways, BEA and BOAC.

Not only do the posters cover developments in technology such as the VC-10, Boeing 747 and Concorde, but also major occasions of the 20th Century, such as the 1948 Olympic Games, 1951 Festival of Britain and 1953 Coronation. They all rely heavily on illustration and feature a variety of styles, notably the modernism of Imperial Airways’ posters in the 1930s.

The book inevitably focuses on advertising between the 1920s and 1960s as television took over as the principal advertising medium for airlines. BA of course used television advertising to great effect in the 1980s and beyond.

However, there are many more recent posters in the book such as BBH’s 2012 Olympics campaign and illustrations by Carla Lucena for the launch of London Gatwick – Lima in 2016.

Sadly, the book’s author passed away in the week of publication.

Paul Jarvis was a much respected and liked colleague who for over 15 years has volunteered as the curator of the British Airways Heritage Collection. This is particularly untimely as next year BA will celebrate its centenary. There can be no doubt Paul’s work has played a vital role in airline’s preparations for its centenary.

Paul has also published a number of books on BA are all of which are on sale at Amberley Publishing. This collection of books will serve as a reference of decades of aviation history for many years to come.
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“British Airways: 100 Years in the Sky”

Channel 5 takes a look at 100 years of BA at 21:00 on Tuesday 1 May 2018.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Centenary

British Airways Boeing 737 in Landor livery
British Airways Boeing 737 in Landor livery (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways celebrates its centenary in 2019. The airline itself will no doubt be planning a lot of events to mark the occasion.

The official date of BA’s 100th anniversary is not until 25 August 2019. However, Channel 5 is well ahead of the game as it will take a look at the history of BA in a two part series “British Airways: 100 Years in the Sky”.

The first episode airs at 21:00 on Tuesday 1 May 2018 and will be available to watch on demand at My5 after broadcast.

The programme is produced by Title Role Productions whose related credits include World’s Wildest Flights.

There’s actually not much that has been released in terms of pre-broadcast publicity, beyond “The first passengers sat in wicker chairs with no toilets.” Also, it is not known whether BA has co-operated with the production, which would influence how much archive material has been available. Researchers were looking for contributors online earlier this year, which suggests the production turnaround is quite quick.

Postscript

Having just watched the first episode, Title Role has done a very creditable job at covering a very broad subject. There’s a lot of high quality archive footage and a good range of informed contributors including journalists, social and cultural historians and former staff of BA and its predecessor airlines.