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Higher education postcard: advertising

This week's card from Hugh Jones’ postbag shows the brand power of universities
This article is more than 1 year old

Hugh Jones is a freelance HE consultant. You’ll find a daily #HigherEducationPostcard if you follow him on Twitter.

The Great Eastern Railway would like you to know that its trains let you see such magnificent sights as Trinity College, Cambridge.

And we know this because it published a postcard of Trinity College with its crest overprinted.

Universities – and not only the pretty Oxbridge colleges – were clearly marketable commodities.

The Great Eastern Railway operated from 1862 to 1922 out of Liverpool Street, its main line being to Norwich. Railway companies needed passengers, and thus sought reasons why people might want to travel. And tourism was one such reason. Here’s another advert from the company, taken from the Tatler of 11 December 1907, advertising Christmas holidays.

Cambridge was easily reachable from London for a day trip. And postcards were a mass medium – 800 million sent in the UK in 1910 – so a crest on a card would get seen by a lot of people. And even better, as card were bought from vending machines on train stations, the punter would cover the cost of the advert!

It wasn’t only railway companies that got in on the act. Here’s a card extoling the virtues of Silex hard stone, for steps and paving, using Bristol University’s Wills Memorial Building.

There’s no grand point I’m trying to make, just sharing a curiosity – but it obvious that in early C20 Britain, universities had market appeal.

The Trinity, Cambridge card has a mysterious message too. Sent on 9 June 1909, to a Miss Thomas of Forest Gate, it says simply:

Look out for tomorrow. KGPB

I wonder what tomorrow brought

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