An Escalator in an Underground Factory

Catalogue number
  • Art.IWM ART LD 4142
Art and Popular Design
Production date
Place made
Great Britain
Subject period
  • Support: paper
  • medium: pastel
  • Support: Height 725 mm, Width 618 mm
  • Frame: Depth 45 mm, Height 882 mm, Width 780 mm
Alternative names
  • object category: drawing

© IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 4142)

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Object description

image: crowds of women factory workers in white overalls descend an escalator. A figure with a bicycle goes up the escalator on the other side.


During the height of the Blitz in November 1940, Plessey, a manufacturing company with vital expertise in radio and aircraft equipment, took over a two mile section of newly constructed tunnels of the London Underground in order to maintain production. The tunnels between Leytonstone and Gants Hill were part of a scheme to extend the Central Line into East London and the only access was via stairs at the intended stations. In order to supervise the 2000 workers along the five miles of tunnel, the foreman was issued with a bicycle. The shapes of the figures were commented on in this painting but they give a sense of the strength of purpose and spirit amongst the workers.

History note

War Artists Advisory Committee Commission, 1944


Frank Dobson 44

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