‘The Up and Down Lines’ – a Railway Mission Pastoral Poster

A post by Ginny Dawe-Woodings, Special Collections placement student/volunteer.

My job as placement student in Special Collections at Brunel University has focused around a map listing project. Most of the maps are railway maps, part of the Transport History Collection, many in black and white, and there have been many photocopies and multiple editions. So when I came across a brightly coloured, cartoon style map I was delighted and a little surprised. In amongst a selection of original maps of tramlines and railways in Wales I found a map entitled ‘The Up and Down Lines’ which depicts railway and pastoral scenes, with references to passages of the Bible. upanddownlines The poster is a brightly coloured pastoral setting, featuring scenes of farming, horse racing, railways, and industrial buildings. Each scene is accompanied by a map reference, for example there is a boxing match scene (by the horse racing) which is labelled with Rom.3.14-17 – “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” The poster isn’t in the best condition, with considerable wear around the edges, but it is a beautiful example of 19th century railway imagery. DSC00217  Initially I wasn’t certain where the map was supposed to be depicting, but with further research using our Transport History Collection I found out that this kind of map is a fictional setting, using railways as an allegory for a life journey. They were produced by the London based ‘Railway Mission’ which provided Christian counselling to railway workers and their families, and were particularly popular during the late 19th century (there is another example of a similar map from 1895). The Railway Mission produced their own monthly publication called the Railway Signal, where poster prints like ours would have been found. The title ‘The Up and Down Lines’ plays on the railway directional terms, where an up line goes towards a major location (eg. London) and and down line goes away from the major location.  DSC00221  The Transport History Collection consists largely of material relating to British railway history and the Channel Tunnel. It includes many items, including books, maps, timetables and journals, which are all housed in the Special Collections in Brunel University Library. A description of the collection was recently added to Archives Hub.

All images used with the permission of the Railway Mission, which published Railway Signal and still exists today.


13 thoughts on “‘The Up and Down Lines’ – a Railway Mission Pastoral Poster

  1. joanne beardsmore

    Do you have printable copies of the posters. I have been trying to get hold of these for ages. I have The broad & narrow way which is a similar poster & some others.

  2. alan friday

    I have just inherited an old copy of this poster. Its a bit tatty around the edges and not perfectly clean but I would like to find a home for it for a small donation to the previous owners retirement fund (she has just gone into a home and she is in her late 80s).

    1. Mark Reynolds

      Hi we would love to have it. I am a x missionary worker and still working for The Lord. I think this would be good to display to people in the West Yorkshire area. More than willing to send you something for it. Regards Mark Reynolds

    2. Liam Johnston

      I am the executive director of the Railway Mission, if you still have the poster I would be happy to pay for it. We do not have a copy in our archive
      Thank you, Liam

  3. Pingback: A school prize | Brunel Special Collections

  4. David Palmer

    I recently saw a copy of this poster displayed on a wall in The Six Poor Travellers House in Rochester, Kent. Alongside it hung another similar type of poster also published by The Railway Mission entitled The Broad and Narrow Way. I managed to obtain a print of it from Allposters.co.uk. Would love to obtain a copy of The Up and Down Lines poster, if anyone has one available, as I can’t find anyone offering a print of it.

    1. David W Edmunds

      Ditto. I’ve been on the look out for a copy of ‘The Up & Down Line’ poster for a number of years. I even contacted the Railway Mission as I thought they may be able to point me in the right direction but they couldn’t. If anyone can locate a source please let me know.

  5. John Davies

    This is fascinating as I just looked up this website to see what I could discover about this poster, as I just found an original copy of the Up and Down Lines in my basement which I didn’t know I had. My father must have brought it home from Aberystwyth, Wales when he visited my grandfather in 1959. Aside from a one tear in the top border it is in as near perfect condition as one would expect for something this old. I have no idea of what it is worth.


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