Historical Map: Ghost Stations of the London Underground

The Underground has been around so long, and its famous Diagram so ingrained in our heads, that we tend to think of it as an immutable object: always the same, never changing. That’s absolutely not so, as this fantastic reworking of the Tube Diagram shows.

Shown here are the 40-plus “ghost stations” of the London Underground — stations that once existed as part of the “Tube”, but no longer do, for varying reasons. Some stations have since been demolished, but others have been transferred to operate under different services like the Overground or National Rail and still exist as a part of London’s greater transit network.

What’s really striking about this map is the huge reach of the Underground outside London. While only ever operated as a special “excursion” service, the journey to Shoeburyness (at the mouth of the Thames) from Central London on the District Line was around 45 miles (or 72 kilometres)! Heading out the other way, the furtherest reaches of “Metro-Land” at Brill and Verney Junction are some 60 miles (95 km) from the centre of the city.

Here’s the complete list on Wikipedia of all the stations shown, giving the reasons for closure and whether the station is still extant or demolished. Good reading!

(Source: Us vs. Them via Taras Grescoe)

Design Resource: Transport for London’s “Line Diagram Standards” Guide

Definitely worth a look to see how a major transit agency puts together a comprehensive guide to assembling consistently designed maps. The guide deals with horizontal in-car strip maps and the vertical line maps seen on platforms, but many of the principles still hold true for the design of a full transit map.

Of particular interest is the relationship between the x-height of Johnston Sans and the thickness of the route lines (they’re the same). This value of “x” is also used to calculate the radius of a curve in a route line: the innermost edge of a curve is always three times the value of “x” — never any less. Almost every relationship between objects on the map is defined mathematically, although the nomenclature can be a little less than intuitive sometimes: “x”, “n” and “CH” all make an appearance!

Also, if you ever wanted to know what the PANTONE or CMYK breakdowns for all the Underground route line colours are, this guide tells you that, too!

All in all, a really interesting read — just try and ignore the terrible typos that pop up here and there: “donated” instead of “denoted” on page 11 is my favourite! Click on the image or the link below to download the PDF.

(Source: Transport for London website - 2MB PDF)

Amended Tube Map removes Embankment Interchange for 2014 Works

Even design classics like the London Tube map have to be flexible enough to cope with change. The escalators to the Northern and Bakerloo lines at Embankment station — yes, the very escalators that can be seen in the previously posted cutaway diagram from 1914 — are going to be completely replaced.

The process is going to take 43 weeks starting on January 8 next year. During that time, Northern and Bakerloo trains will pass through Embankment without stopping, as there simply won’t be a way to get from their platforms to the surface or to the District/Circle Line platforms.

As a result, Embankment has been temporarily downgraded from an interchange ring on the map to a station tick, and moved away from the intersection between all the routes. It’s had to be moved quite a distance, because “Embankment” is quite a long name (no hyphenation of names on the Tube map!). As a result, Temple has been moved off the horizontal section of the District/Circle line and placed on the 45-degree segment along with Blackfriars, Mansion House and Cannon Street.

I personally don’t think that Temple needed to be moved off the horizontal section: Embankment and Temple could clearly be evenly spaced across the horizontal section — Embankment below the line, Temple above — without any confusion, as the station ticks would clearly “point” to their respective stations. Embankment’s label might have to slightly to the right compared to its tick, but it would be no worse than the placement of Westminster’s label. With these two stations on the horizontal segment, Blackfriars, Mansion House and Cannon Street could all retain their usual positions: I think this would create more even, harmonious spacing of all the stations than the map shown here.

Apparently, this map is appearing on some Northern Line trains but hasn’t been updated on the TfL site yet (and shouldn’t be until the work commences). 

(Source: Tweet by Ian Jones — @metro_land)

Historical Diagram: Charing Cross/Embankment Tube Station Cutaway, 1914

Simply stunning cutaway cross-section of the London Tube station now known as Embankment in 1914. This drawing shows the station just after the opening of the new deep tube extension of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway (now part of the Northern Line) from their previous terminus to the north at Charing Cross station. The extension was a single line that headed south from Charing Cross, looped back around underneath the Thames and had a single platform heading northbound here at Embankment.

The diagram shows the C+E&H tube at the bottom right: it looks like a train has just left, heading back northwards to Charing Cross. To the left, the twin tubes of the Bakerloo line can be seen. Above, the shallow cut-and-cover tunnel of the District line runs at right angles to the deeper lines, built into the actual river embankment from which the station received its name. Above them all sits the grand old Charing Cross main line railway station, with The Strand just visible at its far end (a helpful caption, “This is The Strand”, points the way).

More than anything, it’s the detail of this cutaway that I like the most. Busy people enter and exit the station, read newspapers and ride the escalators between levels. A double-decker omnibus and Edwardian car can be seen chugging along the street, and trains belch steam in the station above. Advertisements adorn the walls, and the red carriages of the Tube fairly rattle along the tracks. An early version of the Underground roundel – a red circle with a blue bar across it – can be seen above the station’s building and on the District line platform.

If the naming of the station seems a little confusing, that’s because it was. In 1914, the District line platforms were named Charing Cross (for the main line station almost directly above), while the two separate deep tube lines were both called Embankment. The C+E&H station directly to the north, which was previously just Charing Cross, became Charing Cross (Strand). By 1915, everyone had had enough of this nonsense and all the platforms at this station took on the District line name of Charing Cross, while Charing Cross (Strand) became simply Strand. At the same time, the separate Strand station on the Piccadilly line was renamed as Aldywch to prevent even more confusion.

In June 1973, the newer Northern line Strand station was closed to allow construction of Jubilee line platforms. These platforms were constructed between the Bakerloo line and Northern line platforms together with the long-missing below-ground interchange between those two lines. In anticipation of the new interchange station, Charing Cross (this station) was renamed Charing Cross Embankment. The Jubilee line platforms and the refurbished Northern line platforms opened in May 1979, when the combined station (including Trafalgar Square on the Bakerloo line) was given its current name of Charing Cross; simultaneously, Charing Cross Embankment (this station) reverted to its original name – Embankment.

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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)

Historical Poster: “Be Map Conscious”, London Transport, 1945

Here’s another beautiful old London Underground poster that features the Tube map, apparently produced to help servicemen unfamiliar with London get around. The poster, which basically acts as a Tube Map for Dummies guide, was placed next to the map in stations, with the abstract guard pointing towards it. The “tear-away” section at the bottom right shows a slightly modified version (angles aren’t at 45 degrees, the Aldwych spur is missing) of the central part of the map, which would have been this 1943 edition.

The artist was Polish-born Jan de Witt (1907-1991), signed as “Lewitt-Him” on the poster.

(Source: Creative Review)

c86:

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.

Historical Map: Diagram of Tube Services, 7:00am, September 28, 1940

Here’s a fantastic historical document — a tube map used by engineers in London to mark out the status of services on the Underground during World War II. By the look of it, this map was updated at least daily, if not even more often, as this date falls squarely within the Blitz — a period where London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights by the Luftwaffe.

The map itself looks like a modified hand-drawn version of H.C. Beck’s 1936 Tube Diagram, with all stations shown as circles and some main line track added as well. The use of the map is simple: a red line along track shows that there is no service along that segment, while a blue circle (seen between Belsize Park and Chalk Farm, for example) indicates the location of an exploded bomb. It would also seem that the circle for a station is also coloured red if it is substantially damaged or destroyed. Most horrifying of all, a red cross marks the location of an unexploded bomb. Notes written in a beautiful, precise hand add detail to these symbols where necessary — “unsafe buildings”, “single tunnel only available for traffic: SB tunnel damaged by bomb”.

Our rating: An incredible historical document that vividly recalls the dangers and horrors faced by Londoners during the Blitz. 5 stars!

5 Stars!

(Source: IanVisits/Flickr)

"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: 1896 German Map of the London Underground
This map of the nascent London Underground and “other railways” appears in the 14th edition of Brockhaus’ Konversations-Lexikon, a respected German encylopedia that is still in business today. Now known simply as the Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, the 21st edition was published in 2006 and runs to over 24,000 pages in 30 volumes.
The map itself is pretty simple and traditional, notable for being printed in three colours (black, red and a rather lovely teal blue). Production-wise, this means the map was almost certainly printed separately to the main body of the encyclopedia (which was printed with black ink only), and tipped-in by hand as the main volume was bound and assembled.
Also interesting is the map’s use of both German and English labels: while the Underground bears labels like “City u. Südlondonbahn” and the river proudly wears the name “Themse”, many of the main railway lines and localities are named in their native tongue. I’m not sure why this is: perhaps the map was altered or copied from an original English source?
Our rating: With an 1896 date, this is one of the earlier Underground maps I’ve seen, and is interesting just for that reason alone. It’s not the greatest cartography, but it’s not really meant for navigation of the system, but for giving a broad overview in the context of an encyclopedia. Three stars.

(Source: homingmissileglow Tumblr)
P.S. Google Books has a 1908 update of this map available as part of their digitized collection - click here to view it.

Historical Map: 1896 German Map of the London Underground

This map of the nascent London Underground and “other railways” appears in the 14th edition of Brockhaus’ Konversations-Lexikon, a respected German encylopedia that is still in business today. Now known simply as the Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, the 21st edition was published in 2006 and runs to over 24,000 pages in 30 volumes.

The map itself is pretty simple and traditional, notable for being printed in three colours (black, red and a rather lovely teal blue). Production-wise, this means the map was almost certainly printed separately to the main body of the encyclopedia (which was printed with black ink only), and tipped-in by hand as the main volume was bound and assembled.

Also interesting is the map’s use of both German and English labels: while the Underground bears labels like “City u. Südlondonbahn” and the river proudly wears the name “Themse”, many of the main railway lines and localities are named in their native tongue. I’m not sure why this is: perhaps the map was altered or copied from an original English source?

Our rating: With an 1896 date, this is one of the earlier Underground maps I’ve seen, and is interesting just for that reason alone. It’s not the greatest cartography, but it’s not really meant for navigation of the system, but for giving a broad overview in the context of an encyclopedia. Three stars.

3 Stars

(Source: homingmissileglow Tumblr)

P.S. Google Books has a 1908 update of this map available as part of their digitized collection - click here to view it.