Photo: The Underground Map – Then and Now
A nicely executed little montage of Underground maps through the years. From left to right: what looks like the 1932 version of the F.H Stingemore map, the original 1933 H.C. Beck diagram, and a modern day Tube Map. I have to say, the Underground uniforms in the 1930s were a lot nicer than their modern counterparts!
Poster: Helping London Grow for the Future, Transport for London
London’s certainly come a long way since the Metropolitan Line first opened in 1863 with wooden carriages and steam engines. I wonder what a Victorian Londoner would think of this modern skyline, all soaring, glimmering, curving glass?
Helping London grow for the future. We’ve been serving London since 1863 and our continuing improvements will help you get around for the next 150 years.
Historical Map: The “Zéró” London Underground Diagram, 1938
Although clearly based on the H.C. Beck diagram of the period (which was only five years old at the time), this diagram created and printed entirely without Beck’s knowledge. Although the work is unsigned, it is now known that this map was designed by Hans Schleger – perhaps better known by his pseudonym “Zéró” – who had already created a number of memorable posters for London Transport.
Beck was furious, and he wasted no time in letting London Transport know exactly what he thought:
I have just happened to see a proof of a new Underground folder. The “H.C. Beck” diagram has been used, but with considerable and, I suggest, undesirable, alternations by another artist – one not on the staff – without reference to me.
The idea of redesigning the old geographical Underground map in diagram form was conceived by me in 1931; the original diagram, published in 1932 [sic: 1933] was of my own invention and design. Every variation of it since has been either made by me or by the lithographer under my supervision.
When I recently signed a form assigning the copyright of this design to the Board, it was not merely understood, but was promised, that I should continue to make, or edit and direct, any alterations that might have to be made to the design. This practice has been followed without exception since 1932.
I wish therefore to place on record my protest against the action taken in the present instance.
London Transport’s Publicity Officer, Christian Barman, managed to placate Beck, telling him that the new map was meant as an experiment in background shading only, and that “neither Mr. Patmore nor myself quite realised how far [the artist] had gone before we saw a proof.” His response, however, stopped short of assuring Beck that all future amendments to the map would be assigned to him…
As for the map itself, Beck’s assessment is pretty much spot on: the alterations are mostly undesirable. The graduated blue background – meant to highlight the central part of the map – is distracting and interferes with the legibility of type, especially when they are set in green type. The reversal of the Thames from white to blue where it cuts through this prototypical Zone 1 is also very visually distracting.
However, the use of a single circle for interchange stations is actually far simpler than what Beck was using at the time – many stations had two circles, and Hammersmith used three! Beck would experiment with linked “Olympic Ring” circles and other arrangements before setting on the now familiar and ubiquitous “barbell” connector in 1946.
Also of noteis the depiction of planned extensions to the Northern Line that were never completed due to the outbreak of World War II.
Our rating: An evolutionary dead end in the development of the Tube Map, but also the first indication that Beck’s position as the map’s guardian wasn’t as solid as he liked to think. Three stars.
Source: bananastrudel on Etsy
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)
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.
Cute title. Made back in 2007, so the Circle Line is actually a loop, rather than the… ahh.. paperclip… it is now. Nicely done piece of whimsy.
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!
"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)
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.
London Underground Quilt
Made as a wedding gift for two transit nerd friends, this is beautiful work. The artist wasn’t content with just Zone 1 or a simplification: this is the whole map, including the DLR and the Overground with their distinctive white centre-stroked route lines.
Click here to view the entire set of photos on Flickr, including lots of work-in-progress shots. Simply stunning!