Photo: Tube Map Livery on GB Railfreight Engine 66721

A couple of great photos showing the unique Underground Map-themed livery on a GB Railfreight engine. The left side of the engine shows a portion of the original 1933 H.C. Beck design, while the right side shows the corresponding part of the 2013 Tube map. I believe that this engine  is used to perform maintenance work on sections of the Underground, so the theme is certainly appropriate, as is the engine’s name plaque, seen in the lower image — “Harry Beck”

(Source: Michael Thorne/Flickr — top image | bottom image)


Design for Shopping poster for London Transport, 1935

Design by O’Keeffe

via Mikey Ashworth

You just can’t beat 1930s London Underground posters - a superb mix of art, design and branding. This one’s a real beauty! Of interest is that it playfully echoes the look of Beck’s Tube Diagram, then only two years old.

"Stitched Subways - London" by Susan Stockwell, 2007

One of the loveliest reinventions of the London Tube Map I’ve seen so far — simply red thread stitched onto rice paper. It’s bigger than it looks: 100cm wide by 30cm deep, so it would certainly look impressive on a wall!

(Source: Susan’s website)

  1. Camera: Canon EOS 20D
  2. Aperture: f/9
  3. Exposure: 1/160th
  4. Focal Length: 85mm

Historical Map: Circular London Underground Map Sketch, Harry Beck, c. 1964

For those who thought that the two circular London Underground diagrams I featured earlier this year — by Jonny Fisher and Maxwell Roberts — were a completely modern twist on an old classic, here’s a reminder of just how forward-thinking Harry Beck really was.

This is a sketch, dated to 1964 at the earliest (due to his adoption of Paul Garbutt’s dot-in-a-circle device for main line interchange stations), that presents the Circle Line as a perfect ellipse. Quite a stunning contrast to his usual rigidly rectilinear diagrams, if perhaps ultimately not a huge improvement — much as the two modern maps are exercises in design, rather than a replacement for the original. Note also that this beautiful sketch is entirely hand-drawn: not a computer to be seen in it’s creation.

(Source: Scanned from my personal copy of Mr. Beck’s Diagram by Ken Garland, Capital Transport Publishing, 1994)

  1. Camera: CanoScan LiDE 600F

Video: Making of a London Underground String Map

Feeling creative? Why not make a string art replica of your favourite subway system as shown in this awesome video? The pro tip is definitely the taping down of the actual map before putting in the nails for guaranteed fidelity to the real thing.

(Source: fsm vpggru/Vimeo)

Historical Map: Diagram Showing London’s Underground Railways, Power Stations, Substations, 1933

Here’s a fascinating reworking of Harry Beck’s original 1933 Tube map that I haven’t seen before. Apparently it’s from an article in a journal from November 1933 that details the work required to upgrade the electrical services on the Underground.

Apart from the stark black and white treatment and addition of the power stations and substations, what’s really interesting about this map are the little tweaks and changes that have already occurred since the first edition of the map, produced just months beforehand. The Northern end of the Piccadilly Line has now reached Cockfosters, whereas the original map shows it as under construction. The District Line also no longer reaches Uxbridge, being replaced by Piccadilly Line service. The eastern end of the District Line on the original map just bled off the edge of the page; now it has a (slightly cramped) arrow head indicating that the line continues.

In fact, apart from the use of diamonds for interchange stations instead of circles, this map actually has far more in common with the 1936 edition of the London Underground Map than the 1933… which just goes to show how Beck - ever the perfectionist - was always tinkering with and perfecting his design.

(Source: IanVisits/Flickr)