Submission - Historical Map: Greater London British Rail Map, 1969

Submitted by Peter Marshall, who says:

I’m currently trying to design a clearer diagrammatic representation of the maddening tangle of railway lines and services in the South London area. Just doing my initial research into historical versions online, I turned up this interesting map.  It appears to have been published in 1969 by British Rail, for what purpose, I am not absolutely certain.  It seems far too sparse in detail to be a map intended for use by the general public, as it gives so little information about lines and services, however it appears to have been published alongside a timetable.

I think it’s interesting mainly because the first thing I imagine anyone planning to map the railways around London doing is completely abandoning topography, however, topography plays such an important part of this map. The use of the BR typeface and stripped down use of only 3 shades (background, river and line) of the same BR red is beautiful in its simplicity. The strange angularity of the river seems to serve to instruct the user that this is a diagram using topography as its basic principle, but prepared to deviate from it as necessary, such as in the exaggerated separation of Lewisham from the Lewisham bypassing curves, or the large junctions at Selhurst and Streatham.

Perhaps I’m over-familiar with the region and therefore find it easier to use than an ordinary member of the public, but I think this is a really interesting approach.

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Transit Maps says:

I think Peter has inadvertently provided the answer to his own question when he says that this map was published along with the British Rail timetable book. This is what I like to call a “boast map” — it serves no other purpose than to say, "Look how large and extensive our network is! Why, you can get just about anywhere on British Rail!"

Of course, to work out how you can actually get there from here, you have to consult the timetables in the accompanying book, or go and talk to a British Rail booking agent.

The map itself serves its purpose well and is another great example of how to make a compelling map with a limited colour palette. The major London terminals are nicely emphasised, and the restrained London Underground roundels to indicate stations with Tube interchanges are rather wonderful.

BR certainly used diagrammatic maps of their Greater London network at the time for use by the general public, as this superb poster from 1965 shows.

Source: Joyce’s World of Transport Eclectica

Old Paris Metro Map (Detail)

This is simply gorgeous. The fact that the RER terminates at Nation dates this map from between 1969 (when the RATP first purchased the line from the SNCF) and 1977 (when the line was extended through Paris and became the RER “A” line we know today). The original post on Flickr does not note where this map is (or was) located.

(Source: lionelofparis)

Historical Map: Sydney Suburban Rail Network, 1969 

Here’s an interesting map from my hometown of Sydney, Australia from around 1969. Unusually, it doesn’t display different services as separate coloured route lines: everything is shown as one uniform orange line. It also displays the distance from Sydney Central station (in miles), and the elevation (in feet) of each station. Non-electrified lines are shown as dashed lines. These odd features lead me to believe that this is a map for internal NSW Railways use, and was never intended for use by the general public.

Our rating: Of historical interest, but pretty bland and bare-bones. 2 stars.

2 Stars

(Source: navarzo4/Flickr)