This gif exposes the lies the London Tube map is telling you

On the Beck Map and distortion…

The design by Harry Beck, which has stood the test of time, was first introduced in 1933. It’s success has been attributed to the ease with which it can be read, despite the lack of a consistent scale. The sprawl of the London Underground out into the suburbs means that if you were to use one scale that took in every stop, the sections showing central London would be completely unreadable. The coherence of the design has seen it exported to metro systems around the world.

Source: This gif exposes the lies the London Tube map is telling you

Above the Piccadilly Line (Posters)

INTRODUCTION

On Saturday I had cause to be in London for the day (click here for more details). Engineering works interfered with my journey, and finding myself on a stopping train I alighted at Finsbury Park to change to the Piccadilly line.

A NEW POSTER THAT STIRRED A MEMORY

The first southbound train that arrived was doing so after a significant break, and was therefore packed. Following my own advice tendered in a comment posted on Charlotte Hoather’s blog I therefore waited for the next train, which was following hard upon the heels of the packed one and duly got a seat. Just inside the train I noticed this poster…

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Which reminded me more than a little of this one in my posession…

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My replica of an old poster is larger and more detailed but covers a smaller area, stopping short at Hammersmith rather than featuring Heathrow. The basic idea, of showing people what is available directly above the line on which they are travelling is common to both posters. I feel that for all the comparatively small size of the modern poster only showing the Science Museum for South Kensington is reprehensible – both the other museums should certainly be shown and possibly the Royal College of Music as well. That said, there should be more such posters – every line should feature one. Here to finish is a juxtaposition picture…

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The 2016 London Connections Map

INTRODUCTION

This map has been available since January, but I have only just obtained a copy of it.

THE NEW MAP

The biggest change in the formatting of the new map is that Gatwick now features on the London side of the map (this is a two sided production, London Connections on one side and London and the South East on the other). Here are some pictures…

Map and stations list.
Map and stations list.
Map only
Map only
Focus on Gatwick.
Focus on Gatwick.

And just for the sake of completeness here is the other side…

London & South East
London & South East

Covent Garden

INTRODUCTION

Although this station is on the original section of the Piccadilly line which opened in 1906 Covent Garden did not open until 1907. The reason for this omission is that it is actually a mere 0.16 miles (0.26 km) from Leicester Square, the shortest distance between any two stations on the same line anywhere on the system (this distinction is there for situations such as Euston Square and Warren Street which are round the corner from one another). However, in spite of the proximity of Leicester Square, Covent Garden does have enough to offer to justify having its own station, as the rest of this post will endeavour to show. Here are some map pictures showing the crowded nature of the area:

The Diagrammatic History
The Diagrammatic History
London Connections, 2015
London Connections, 2015
The A-Z, early 1990s.
The A-Z, early 1990s.

MUSIC, MARKETS AND MAPS

Dealing with these in the order above, Covent Garden is home to the English National Opera. Covent Garden Market is very famous, and more information is available at their website. Finally in this section, just down the road from Covent Garden station is Stanford’s, the map dealers. If you are going to find a map anywhere, Stanford’s will have it.

THEATRELAND

Covent Garden is in the heart of Theatreland. In addition to the information in the website to which I have just linked, there is a walk (no 3 to be precise) in “100 Walks In Greater London” which takes in theatreland, and a century ago a map was produced combining London Underground and Theatreland…

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THE LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM

I have, of course, saved Covent Garden’s most important attraction until last: it is here that you will find the London Transport Museum. This is an absolute treasure house for anyone interested in London Transport. You can explore old rolling stock, look at maps and much else besides. As this shows, the enthusiasm is mutual:

Feedback

A LITERARY POSTSCRIPT:
EDWARD MARSTON

It is a little tenuous but I cannot miss this opportunity to mention one of my favourite writers, Edward Marston. His series set in the Restoration period (a couple of centuries before London Underground – but his Railway Detective series needs only to move forward five more years to overlap with the beginning of London Undeground) features Christopher Redmayne as its leading character, and his errant brother Henry lives at Covent Garden.

Wood Green and Alexandra Palace

INTRODUCTION

This website grew out of series of blog posts that I dubbed “London Station by Station”, and this post is along those lines.

ONOSNOOKERTRIPLCROWN

I have chosen today for this post because The Masters, one of the three tournaments which along with the UK Championship and the World Championship that constitutes Snooker’s triple crown is under way. This tournament is nowadays staged at Alexandra Palace…

The home of The Masters snooker tournament, Alexandra Palace. Image from google: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-rVSI8L_R9pw/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAAOQ/iOf_mQ2ABr8/s0-c-k-no-ns/photo.jpg
The home of The Masters snooker tournament, Alexandra Palace. Image from google: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-rVSI8L_R9pw/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAAOQ/iOf_mQ2ABr8/s0-c-k-no-ns/photo.jpg

AN EXTENSION

The Piccadilly line opened between Finsbury Park and Hammersmith in 1906, and was extended northwards in three stages between 1932 and 1933. Wood Green was part of the first stage of the extension, from Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove. Phase two was an extension from Arnos Grove to Enfield West (now Oakwood), and the final part of the extension was to Cockfosters.

Here are some maps…

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A promotional map showing the central part of the Piccadilly, with some extensions visible...
A promotional map showing the central part of the Piccadilly, with some extensions visible…
Finsbury Park is followed as you go north by Manor House and Turnpike Lane, before yo get to Wood Green.
Finsbury Park is followed as you go north by Manor House and Turnpike Lane, before yo get to Wood Green.
Rolling out the new extension!
Rolling out the new extension!

ALEXANDRA PALACE & WOOD GREEN

Why am I using an event at Alexandra Palace to write about Wood Green? Because the two are very close together, as this picture from an old A-Z atlas of London shows:

As this shows, Alexandra Palace and Wood Green are very close - and the two stations (one rail, one underground) are both comfortably walkable from the main attraction.
As this shows, Alexandra Palace and Wood Green are very close – and the two stations (one rail, one underground) are both comfortably walkable from the main attraction.

I once had family living in this part of London, and often travelled to one or other of the two stations on the above map section at that time.

THE ALEXANDRA PALACE WALK

Although this walk, from “100 Walks in Greater London” is based around using Alexandra Palace railway station, it would not require much extension to make use of Wood Green.

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HISTORY AND CONNECTIONS

A couple of final map pictures, showing the history of Wood Green station and the modern connections of Wood Green and Alexandra Palace…

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A Jute Bag

INTRODUCTION

The last of my purchases with my Christmas cash arrived today, a jute bag I had ordered from the London Transport Museum.

A DOUBLY USEFUL ITEM

Jute bags are always very useful things to have, especially now that (not before time) plastic shopping bags now carry an automatic 5p charge. This one features red handles and gussets, and on each face a map of the central area of London Underground.

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Available from the London Transport Museum for £5.99 plus delivery.

 

Mr Beck’s Underground Map

INTRODUCTION

I recently put up a post about the book “No Need to Ask!”, which deals with the development of the London Underground map before Henry C Beck. Today I deal with the the other half of the story of London Underground’s maps, as told in “Mr Beck’s Underground Map”.

THE PROBLEM WITH STANDARD MAPS

This picture from the back of “Mr Beck’s Underground Map” illustrates one of the problems that showing London Underground on a geographical map has – the vast spread of the system which means that any such map has to be huge for the central area not to be hopelessly compressed…

Since some distortion is therefore virtually inevitable in order for the central area of the map to be usable, the question then arises of how to make the map work.

THE BIRTH OF A LEGEND

Henry C Beck, an engineer and very skilled draftsman, decided that it was time to abandon any pretence of geographical mapping for London Underground. Here is a preliminary sketch…

Although Mr Beck’s employers did not think the public would accept anything so radical, he kept on at them until they agreed to the experiment, using this map…

 

The original Beck Map (postcard - not featured in the book).
The original Beck Map (postcard)

Not for the first or last time, public support for something radical had been grossly underestimated, and the map was a big hit almost from the moment it first appeared.

THE CHANGING SHAPE OF THE MAP

As well as extensions, new lines and on occasion cut backs, methods of representing things changed down the years, as this series of pictures shows…

An early effort to further emphasize the central area by thickening the lines there (from 1935)
An early effort to further emphasize the central area by thickening the lines there (from 1935)
Metropolitan and District both green, indicating their links and their separateness from the rest of the system.
Metropolitan and District both green, indicating their links and their separateness from the rest of the system.
An experiment with 60 degree angles.
An experiment with 60 degree angles.
At the other extreme, using angles of 45 and 90 degrees only.
At the other extreme, using angles of 45 and 90 degrees only.

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The appearance of the Circle line for the first time.
The appearance of the Circle line for the first time.
Minimising the use of diagonlas.
Minimising the use of diagonlas.

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A speculative 1994 journey planner showing some potential extensions (the Jubilee and East London line extensions have happened, with the latter being subsumed into London Overground).
A speculative 1994 journey planner showing some potential extensions (the Jubilee and East London line extensions have happened, with the latter being subsumed into London Overground).

THE BECK MAP GOES INTERNATIONAL

Schematic diagrams are now used worldwide to represent public transport systems. This was Mr Beck’s own effort with the Paris Metro (circa 1946)…

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AND FINALLY

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Mr Beck’s Underground Map can be obtained from the London Transport Museum for £12.95.

The London Underground Map Before Mr Beck

INTRODUCTION

As well as various presents I received a significant amount of cash this Christmas, and one of the things (there is still one more to come) that I bought with this cash was the book “No Need to Ask!”, which I ordered from Stanford’s. This can be thought of as a prequel to “Mr Beck’s Underground Map“, which tells the story of the schematic diagram the came to dominate the public transport world. “No Need to Ask!” (the title comes from the PR campaign around one of the earliest of the maps, which featured a poster of policeman pointing at the map and the caption “no need to ask a p’liceman”.

A TREASURE TROVE OF MAPS

As you might imagine, 68 of years of history and development (1863-1931, when Mr Beck unveiled his diagram) provided a lot of opportunities for map makers. Having set the scene, save for a few final words at the end the rest of this post is going to consist of pictures to give you a feel of the book.

This map dates from 1867.
This map dates from 1867.
This was the District Railway's first effort, in 1874.
This was the District Railway’s first effort, in 1874.
The 1879 update.
The 1879 update.
This late 1890s map shows some of the elements of the later schematic diagrams - it shows only the route itself.
This late 1890s map shows some of the elements of the later schematic diagrams – it shows only the route itself.

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This early 1920s effort also has hints of the schematic about it.
This early 1920s effort also has hints of the schematic about it.
A well-known map - one of the originals is on display at the London Transport Museum.
A well-known map – one of the originals is on display at the London Transport Museum.
The map on its own.
The map on its own.

These maps all give particular emphasis to the Metropolitan and/or District lines – the next set I offer you changes the focus…

The opening of this line was historic in a way - it was a further six decades before another new London Underground line, the Victoria, opened.
The opening of this line was historic in a way – it was a further six decades before another new London Underground line, the Victoria, opened.

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An early example of sponsorship.
An early example of sponsorship. This one had extra appeal for me because of the many visits I have made to the RHS gardens at Wisley.

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A curio.
A curio.

We end this section with a juxtaposition of the last pre-Beck effort, a pure geographical effort of similar vintage and the original Beck diagram…

The 1931 last pre-Beck effort
The 1931 last pre-Beck effort
A full geographical map from the early 1930s.
A full geographical map from the early 1930s.
The original Beck Map (postcard - not featured in the book).
The original Beck Map (postcard – not featured in the book).

GETTING HOLD OF THE BOOK

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The book can be ordered from Stanfords for £12.95. Delivery charges and times vary according to where in the world you are located – further details available on website.

 

Metroland

INTRODUCTION

I covered this topic briefly during my post about the Metropolitan lineHowever, that was an overview of a whole line, and a large number of the stations included within Metroland are no longer served by the Metropolitan, indeed a good few no longer exist at all.

THE CREATION OF THE METROPOLITAN

As the very name Metropolitan Railway suggests it was not originally envisaged that this line would ever serve anywhere outside London. City solicitor Charles Pearson, whose original idea it was, envisaged and underground railway linking all of London’s main line termini, and possibly ultimately the construction of a single super-terminus but he did not see his creation in other than strictly central London terms.

Pearson actually died before his greatest project came to fruition. The second individual to stamp his personality on the Metropolitan was Edward Watkin, who saw the Met as playing a role in his grand scheme to provide railway connections between his three favourite cities, Paris, London and Manchester (he was approximately 20 miles short, construction work having started on a tunnel under the channel before fears of a French invasion led to a veto – and it would be a century later that this last link was completed.

It was this that led to a vast north-western expansion of the Met, and although the outer reaches have long gone, and Met trains no longer travel past Amersham, it is still the case that only 1/16th of the Met is in tunnel. In Met terms, there were at the height of the expansion three bifurcation points, at Harrow-on-the-Hill, which is still a major fork, Chalfont and Latimer (also still a branching point), and at Quainton Road beyond Aylesbury (no longer served). Watkin also developed the Great Central Railway company, with a London terminus at Marylebone (today’s Chiltern Railways), and viewed from their perspective the area we are covering looked like this…

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METROLAND

Watkin died in harness, and his place was taken by Robert Hope Selbie, deviser of the concept of Metroland. It made use of the vast swathes of land owned by the Metropolitan, providing housing developments for people who wanted to live with in easy travelling distance of London, and it kept the outer reaches of the Met going until the mid 1930s, while Quainton Road endured as a Met terminus until 1947, and Aylesbury remained a London Underground destination until 1965, and of course is still served by Chiltern Railways. Selbie’s own publicity took the form of this map…

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Here are close-ups of the inner and outer halves of this map…

Towards London Beyond Amersham