Unofficial Map: Minimalist Glasgow Subway by Verboten Creative

A system as simple as Glasgow’s (one loop of track with a mere 15 stations) lends itself well to a minimalist design approach. Indeed, the current official map is pretty darn simple itself.

However, this neat little two-colour poster from Glasgow-based creative agency, Verboten, definitely takes a very different approach to that minimalism. It eschews any attempt at geography, dispensing with the River Clyde completely (although the gaps between the groups of stations give away its location for those in the know). Red lines lead way from large station dots to the corresponding station names, as well as a handy list of nearby points of interest (but not connections to other rail services).

For me, these connecting lines are the weakest point of the poster, being overly busy in some cases (Bridge St, for example) for a “minimalist” poster. I’m also not fond of the way that the lines for Cessnock and Kinning Park cross over each other: Cessnock could easily fit under Ibrox and negate the need for the crossover at all. 

The “G” logo is a clever idea: reminiscent of the new “S” logo that the subway has adopted without being derivative of it. I just wish the “G” was centred a little better in the circle (it seems too far to the left to me).

Our rating: Despite my minor quibbles, this is still a very attractive interpretation of this venerable transit system. I especially like the interesting colour palette: soft, yet still dynamic at the same time. Three stars.

3 Stars

(Source: Verboten Creative website via Excel Environmental on Twitter)

Historical Poster: London Transport Jubilee Line Opening, 1979

Okay, here’s just one more Tube-map themed poster (for now). This one’s a little more contemporary than the others I’ve featured recently, dating from early 1979. The cheerful little Tube train — which looks like a model that’s been photographed, rather than an illustration —  is actually a pretty reasonable stand-in for the geographical layout of the new line, which then ran from Stanmore to a new Charing Cross station (later extensions mean that the Jubilee Line now bypasses Charing Cross entirely on its way to Stratford).

However, it does seem to be a bit of a cheat to say “And you don’t have to go on the Bakerloo (Line)”, when — prior to the Jubilee Line’s opening — every station between Stanmore and Baker Street was on that line (see this map from 1974).

Aesthetically, there is a bit of dissonance between the tightly-spaced 1970s-era type (looks like Franklin Gothic for the headings) and the classic look of the Johnston Sans used for the station names, but that’s just the way things often looked back then.

Quick trivia fact of the day: The Jubilee Line was originally going to be called the Fleet Line — after the River Fleet that now runs underneath London — until Conservative Party promises during the Greater London Council elections of 1977 caused it to be renamed after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, even though the line opened two years after the actual event. The Fleet Line’s proposed battleship grey colour (from the naval definition of “fleet”) was modified to a lighter silver/grey to fit the “Silver Jubilee” theme.

(Source: TimeOut’s London Blog — Top 5 Novelty Tube Maps)

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.

Historical Map: LNER Northumberland and Durham Quad Royal Poster, 1934

Painted by prolific transport poster artist Montague B. Black, this lovely poster shows the services of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) in England’s north east in 1934. The view stretches from Middlesborough all the up the Northumberland coast to the Scottish Borders and beyond. Each city is painted in imprecise but evocative detail, as is Hadrian’s Wall, shown stretching from Carlisle to Newcastle across the centre of the map. The late afternoon colour palette employed is particularly beautiful.

Definitely worth clicking through to Flickr to view this large.

(Source: DanBrady/Flickr — date and artist confirmed here)

Fantasy Map: Tyneride BRT Network Map

Utterly plausible bus rapid transit (BRT) system map for the Tyneside region of England, designed as if it was a division of the Tyne & Wear Metro.

While I can’t comment on whether Nexus/Metro would ever actually operate its own BRT network, I certainly can’t fault the aesthetics of the map itself. It’s absolutely spot-on, mimicking the look of the official Metro rail map (Nov 2011, 3.5 stars) perfectly. The 30/60-degree angles and the use of the distinctive Calvert slab serif typeface all convince the viewer that this is an official Metro map.

If anything, it’s perhaps a little too similar — the only indication that this is a BRT map as opposed to light rail is the red “B - Buses” symbol at the bottom left, a riff off the iconic yellow “M - Metro” logo.

Our rating: A fun visual homage to a well-known system map, although perhaps a little too close to be successfully adapted to real-world usage if such an event ever occurred. Three stars.

3 Stars

(Source: Urbanplanner24/Flickr)

Detail - Elephant & Castle, London Bus Map

When you have sixteen routes passing through one stop, it might be time to rethink your approach to station/interchange design.

I do note that the current TfL “Buses from Elephant & Castle” spider map (external PDF link) shows this interchange with a geographical street map — a huge improvement which also has the advantage of showing you exactly where each bus stand is (there are eighteen!) and which buses stop at them.

(Source: Mach V/Flickr)


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.

(Source: Zach_ManchesterUK/Flickr)

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