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H.C. Beck’s 1946 Underground Map

1946 London Underground map

H.C. Beck's 1946 Underground map

Henry “Harry” Beck‘s much-loved London Underground map debuted in January 1933 and was an instant hit with commuters.  His clean, simple and elegant diagram cut London’s complex network of transportation links down to size.  Geography was out, straight lines and regularly spaced tube stations were in.  London Transport originally rejected this design classic but Beck persevered and won the day.

He would continue to refine and adapt his diagram over the next 27 years. The variation illustrated here is  “Diagram of Lines” No. 1 issued in 1946. According to Ken Garland‘s excellent book, Mr Beck’s Underground Map, this variation contained three significant changes:

“the abandonment of self-colours for the station name in favour of black printing (previously introduced for the quad royal poster of 1937 but not on card folders); the abolition of the futile and disruptive practice of duplicating and triplicating many station names; and the restoration of ‘Lines to be electrified’ and ‘Lines under construction’ on the Central and Northern Lines, indicated by broken lines and dotted lines respectively”.

Tucked away next to this 5.75″ x 9″ fold-out card was a similar size London’s Museums brochure which I’ve included with all my scans on Flickr.

Finding your way on the Twopenny Tube

1908 Central London Railway map

I’ve spent most of my life in travel or transportation and so I’m no stranger to maps.  My first visit to London was in 1983 and I quickly became a fan of the Tube.  I found the sprawling metropolis a bewildering place back then but the simplicity and efficiency of the Underground cut it down to size.

Henry C. Beck‘s elegant tube map was still decades away when this Central London Railway map was printed by Johnson Riddle & Co. Ltd. in 1908.  Although it was far from elegant it was the first map to show all the independent underground railways. Measuring roughly 11″ x 17″ this particular edition is promoting the Franco-British Exhibition which opened on May 14, 1908.  It took place in an area of west London now called White City.  A new tube station, Wood Lane, had just opened and this map promotes its accessibility to the exhibition.

For more scans of this map check out my 1908 Central London Railway map set on Flickr.

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July 2020

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