Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ulster for your Holidays, 1925

This, as far as I can ascertain, is the first-ever poster advertising Ulster as a tourist destination. I have been collecting this type of stuff for about 20 years and have now got an almost complete set of the annual books which the Ulster Tourist Development Association (UTDA) published. That's a bit geeky and sad, but having worked in advertising and design for that same amount of time, it's interesting to me to consider how images were crafted, and how that developed over the decades. I'll not reveal too much though as this will be on tv sometime soon - my thanks to the individual who shall remain nameless who asked me to get involved, and for the fresh insights that person brought to me as well.

It definitely looks like the UTDA blew the marketing budget on the beautiful colour poster campaign (to attract attention) and then scrimped on the follow-up book - two spot colours on the cover and 136 black and white text pages.

Each county gets a chapter, and then there are sections on Angling, Golf, Bowls, Tennis, Winter Pastimes (football, rugby, hockey, coursing, billiards, boxing, lacrosse and hunting). Motoring and Motor Cycling, Swimming and Aquatics, Yachting and Cricket. Photographs are limited, but maybe reprographic quality back then was an issue.

The editorial slant taken in the book is not what one might expect from the post-Partition era - although it's a bit of a stretch when the Foreword by UTDA Organizing Secretary Ernest Patton compares Ulster with 'Switzerland and Italy, the lure of the Riviera and the beauty of Chamonix' and that Ulster is 'the world's premier pleasure and health resort'. I can see no mention of our current obsession, the Titanic. Funny that.

You could analyse these images forever, and how they were intended to counter the news reports of street violence which were being carried around the world. A newspaper report from 1925 entitled 'Pleasure Province' said 'it is unfortunately too true that for many years now Ireland has been practically a forbidden land to the holiday maker, so uncertain have been the conditions of life and travel therein'.

(The UTDA was founded in 1924 is said to have been masterminded by a Belfast solicitor called Robert Bailie. Almost immediately the LMS Railway bought new trains to service the additional demand it expected for GB visitors wanting to visit NI.)

30813086 1 l

1925 Ulster brochure