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.