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Travel back in time with our pick of Boat Race-inspired vintage railway posters

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This year’s Boat Race may have been controversial, but watching the light and dark blues battling their way down the Thames still had us dreaming of spired university cities and messing about on the water. And these vintage railway posters show just how long people have been travelling to Oxford, Cambridge and London by train.

If you fancy heading off on a Boat Race-inspired trip of your own, check our journey planner to find cheap train tickets before you set off.

1. If you struggled to keep track of where the Cambridge crew members were studying as each one was announced before the start of the 2012 Boat Race, it’s hardly surprising – the University of Cambridge has 31 colleges.

This British Railways poster from 1948 – 1965 shows an aerial view of this historic seat of learning, showing the colleges complete with their heraldic shields, so visitors taking the train to Cambridge could identify them more easily.

The poster was created by Fred Taylor (1875-1963), one of Britain’s leading poster artists at the time.

2. Oxford’s 2012 Boat race crew demonstrated their commitment and sheer determination by fighting their way across the finish line even though they’d broken an oar. And visitors to the city can enjoy strolling around to see the stunning colleges that produced such a focused crew.

This vintage railway poster from 1948, issued jointly by Great Western Railway and the London Midland & Scottish Railway, tried to entice passengers to take the train to Oxford by providing them with an illustration of just one of these colleges.

The poster shows Christ Church College’s famous Tom Tom Tower, which houses Oxford’s loudest bell, the 6 and a quarter ton ‘Great Tom’. The tower, constructed in 1681 – 1682, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, one of England’s most lauded architects.

3. For the Boat Race crews, racing along the River Thames course is a test of their physical and mental stamina, and the culmination of 6 months of gruelling training.

This 1926 poster shows a very different view of the Thames, however. Produced by Southern Railway in order to promote its cheap day tickets to destinations along the Thames, it depicts a much more idyllic picture, with a man enjoying a picnic in the foreground and couples enjoying relaxing boat trips in the background.



Which of the famous university cities do you prefer – Oxford or Cambridge? Do you collect vintage railway posters? Let us know by leaving a comment below …

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