When Suffolk was a far away place...

SUFFOLK: They were the evocative images which captured the spirit of an era.

It was a time long before every family had a couple of cars – indeed even one vehicle – to take them instantly to where they wanted to go.

Railway travel was still the easiest, fastest and often the only way to get there when rural coastal counties like Suffolk were well off the beaten track.

It was before Beeching swung his axe and lopped thousands of miles from routes, when steam ruled the roost, and travel by train was exciting and glamorous, enticing people to places they would never normally visit.

Today these vintage iconic railway posters are sought-after art and two posters advertising Felixstowe are expected to sell for around �2,000 at auction next week.

Produced in 1940, during the Second World War, a poster emblazoned with the slogan “Felixstowe, It’s Quicker By Rail” is valued between �800 and �1,200, while the other – created in 1928 and promoting the “millionaires hotel” The Felix – is set to fetch between �700 and �900.

They are among five Suffolk railway posters which altogether could sell for around �4,500 at Christie’s South Kensington in London on November 5.

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“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 in a bid to boost rail travel to far-flung, exotic-looking seaside resorts, beauty spots and places of historical interest throughout Britain,” said antiques, collectables and memorabilia expert Dick Barton.

“These now sought-after posters, which once adorned railway platforms and waiting rooms, usually feature cloudless blue skies, golden litter-free beaches and clear, unpolluted azure seas, making British holiday destinations as enticing as possible.”

The Felixstowe posters measure 40 by 50 inches and were produced by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).

“Felixstowe, It’s Quicker By Rail” is by artist Robert Swinham, while the Felix Hotel poster is by William Walcot.

Grain ships on the Orwell and a poster of Southwold are both by one of Britain’s outstanding railway poster artists, Frank Henry Mason. The Orwell view is one of the earliest posters produced by the then newly-formed British Railways, in or around 1948, and part of their East Coast Havens series.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, he was one of the LNER’s so-called Big Five poster artists, along with Tom Purvis, Frank Newbould, Austin Cooper and Fred Taylor. LNER paid Mason a retainer of �350 a year and later increased this to �450 annually. His pictures are expected to fetch between �600 and �800.

The same price is expected for another BR poster of Monks Eleigh, produced around 1950 by artist Leonard Squirrell, who was born in Spring Road, Ipswich, trained at the town’s art school and was a founder member of Ipswich Art Club.

? Did you know Ipswich artist Leonard Squirrell? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk