RoSPA's vintage safety posters
Throughout the last century, RoSPA used posters to help people learn about accident prevention.
Not only were the safety messages important, but the posters were also at the forefront of communication design in Britain.
In the early years of the 20th century, the use of visual material to persuade people to be safe was a radical and hugely influential approach and one that RoSPA built on through its poster programme in the decades that followed, including through a huge industrial safety campaign during the Second World War. And posters were not the only method of communication – milk bottle tops, handkerchiefs and wrapping paper were among the items used to take messages into everyday life!
The majority of our poster collection was thought to have been lost until an old warehouse in Hockley, Birmingham, was cleared in 2011. Hundreds of posters, designs and pieces of artwork from the 1930s-1970s were rediscovered and are now housed in the Library of Birmingham's Archives & Collections.
The posters are clever, beautifully created by some of the foremost designers of their time and often amusing. The safety messages they convey are timeless.
Among the famous artists who produced artwork for us were Tom Eckersley, Abram Games, Arnold Rothholz, Leonard Cusden and the cartoonist George Smith, better known as Gus.
Buy Safety First by Paul Rennie
Safety First, a beautiful coffee-table book by Paul Rennie, of Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, tells the story of RoSPA's vintage safety posters in the context of the momentous social and industrial changes that swept 20th century Britain. Copies can be purchased through RoSPA for £12 (RRP £16.99), plus postage. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to place an order.