INTRODUCTION

When a young engineering draftsman named Henry Beck suggested a new, simplified way of displaying the London Undeground Network his superiors were initially disinclined to take such a radical step.

THE GREAT CHANGE

Until Mr Beck finally got the go ahead from his employers, and his creation was unveiled to the public in January 1933, all maps showing railways of any kind were just ordinary maps with the routes superimposed. 82 years post the great unveiling schematic diagrams like those devised by Beck rule the roost not just in London but in every city that has a significant public transport network, and geographical route maps are produced only as souvenirs for enthusiasts.

Beck experimented with his design many times over the years, even going so far on occasion as to not show the line of the Thames, but this proved to be a bridge too far.

For a comparison, the first picture below is of a facsimile of the 1926 London Underground Map, while the second is a facsimile of Mr Beck’s first effort…

 

The 1926 London Underground Map.

The 1926 London Underground Map.

Possibly the single most influential map produced in the 20th century - the original Beck masterpiece.

Possibly the single most influential map produced in the 20th century – the original Beck masterpiece.

This map showing envisaged extensions shows one of Beck’s style changes…

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IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST…

 

While the facsimile of the 1933 original does not appear to be available, the 1936 version is available here at £15.99.

The facsimile of the 1926 Map can be ordered from the London Transport Museum (same source as the other) for £15.95.

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Meanwhile, smaller versions of these and many other maps can be found within the covers of Ken Garland’s masterpiece “The Beck Map”, which can be obtained from bookdepository.com for £12.95.

The Spread of London's Underground

Also, Tim Demuth’s The Spread of London’s Undeground can be obtained from bookdepository.com for £8.94