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Discover Edinburgh’s Past With Our Pick Of Vintage Rail Posters

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Edinburgh is a bustling, beautiful city beloved by tourists the world over, but while it retains much of its ancient charm, it’s also become a much more modern affair over the years. Discover the Edinburgh from older days and check out the vintage rail posters that tempted visitors to the capital in the 20th century.

Home to some of Scotland’s most iconic sites, a plethora of brilliant festivals and many unique cultural and artistic achievements, Edinburgh is a city worth celebrating. Next time you visit, whether for a luxurious holiday or a mad festival dash, be sure to check our journey planner for cheap tickets before you book.

1. Mons Meg

The Flying Scotsman route between London and Edinburgh was largely advertised as a leisure experience, thanks to the many people who chose to holiday in UK’s capital cities. This poster from 1935 gives a glamorous impression of the city, featuring fashionable tourists soaking up the sights.

It was painted in 1935 for the London & North Eastern Railway and prominently features Mons Meg, the famous 14th century cannon that stands outside Edinburgh castle. In the background, the silhouettes of some of Edinburgh’s most recognisable buildings can be seen.

Many of the buildings celebrated then are still standing today, meaning passengers who book trains to Edinburgh can enjoy the same iconic sights as past generations.

2. Scottish War Memorial

This poster from 1929 shows a beautiful painted rendition of the Scottish War Monument found in Edinburgh Castle, and shows a crowd of people gathered around the memorial, which was built to honour the lives lost during the First World War. That the poster was produced for the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) as a way to tempt tourists into the Scottish capital hints at just how prevalent the war remained in the hearts and minds of the nation.

The unique poster was created by Fred Taylor, who was later commissioned to design four ceiling paintings for the Underwriting Room at Lloyd’s and murals for Reed’s Lacquer Room. Over the course of his career he was also exhibited at a variety of London galleries, including the Royal Academy.

3. Newhaven

Rather than focus on the many very popular tourist attractions in Edinburgh at the time, this 1996 poster depicts the peace and quiet found at nearby Newhaven Harbour. Made for Scotrail, it bears the tagline ‘There’s No Giftshop and You Can’t Buy a T-Shirt’, poking gentle fun at the tourist culture it hopes to build on.

The poster shows a lovely, quiet harbour scene, with a number of small boats bobbing on the waters accompanied by a number of swans. In the background a lighthouse can be seen, as well as a glimpse of the famous Forth Road Bridge.

4. Chapel of the Thistle

Drawing on some of the rich history of Edinburgh, this poster depicts the majestic interior of the Chapel of the Thistle in Edinburgh’s St Giles’ Cathedral. The chapel is home to the Order of the Thistle, a historic organisation that honours some of the greatest Scots of the last 300 years.

The artwork is again by Fred Taylor, a popular railway poster artist of the time, and was commissioned for London & North Easter Railway and London, Midland & Scottish Railway in 1930.


Much of Edinburgh’s tourist trade involved looking to the past, but there’s plenty of modern wonders to be discovered in the beautiful city too.

If you had to choose a sight you think most represents Edinburgh, what would it be? Do you think these vintage posters make Edinburgh look as beautiful as it really is? Tweet or Facebook us and let us know…

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