19. The heritage map outside Temple

Mis-mapTo avoid having my virtual collar felt by the long arm of Transport for London’s copyright police, I can’t reproduce any sort of maps on this blog. But I’m pretty sure I can reproduce my own photos of publicly-displayed copies of heritage maps. Well – fairly sure.

I think I’m on safe ground with this one: a copy of a 1932 attempt at a map of the London Underground, which is on permanent show by the entrance to Temple station:

It's a photo of a map, not a map. Honest.I guess most people might find this mildly diverting. I find it continually fascinating, but then I’m not most people.

The map pre-dates by a matter of months the publication of the first of Harry Beck’s groundbreaking diagrammatic versions. As such it became a museum piece remarkably quickly, being officially redundant by January 1933 (and forever more).

Unofficially it has gained a second life as an exhibit on the wall outside Temple, reminding those who care to look that stations once existed called Addison Road and Post Office, that Archway used to be known as Highgate, and that if you wanted to travel anywhere west of Turnham Green you were pretty much on your own.

There is no single credit for this intriguing if eccentric map. Instead it is attributed to the London Passenger Transport Board, along with a few words of advice for stupid people:

Well, dur

  1. In fact, this map actually predates the London Passenger Transport Board: LPTB (and with it London’s first transport authority, or, rather, London Transport as it became known, and TfL as it has effectively become today) was not enacted by Parliament until April 1933, and didn’t come into being formally until the 1st July. So, in effect, it’s another anniversary this year (80 years) and one that TfL seems to be (perhaps rightly, as 150 years is certainly more of a milestone than 80!) ignoring – although the National Tramway Museum at Crich in Derbyshire do seem to be hosting some kind of London-themed event in July.

  2. Martin Brandt Djupdræt said:

    Thanks for information. Underground maps is a fascinating story of design and communication. I can recommend Ken Garlands book Mr. Beck’s Underground Map.

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