But I hadn’t expected it to do so as a wall tile on a platform at Aldgate East. And a pretty impressive one at that, nicely capturing the building’s mix of enduring majesty and shameless self-importance.
The tile is one of a number of designs embedded sporadically, almost whimsically, along the side of both platform walls. They lure your gaze away from the all the familiar apparatus of an Underground station and occupy you with something new, something unexpected, something… a little baffling:
And while this looks like a coat of arms, perhaps belonging to one of the counties through which the Underground passes…
It’s a bit like the sort of half-arsed monster that frequented Peter Davison-era Doctor Who episodes, but sporting a face that looks like a character from Once Upon A Time… Man.
I think we’re on safer ground with this one:
The S stands for Stabler – Harold Stabler, the designer who worked on the remodelling of Aldgate East station in the 1930s, and who helped established and popularise the influential ceramics company Poole Pottery.
Stabler’s tiles are charming little bulletins of whimsy from a time when art could be both stylish and fun. They elevate a rather humdrum station into something teasingly special. They’re also the smallest things – so far – to merit an entry on this blog all to themselves.