Tuesday, 8 January 2013

150 years in style

above 'for Business or Pleasure' by F.E. Whitney, 1913
below 'Advertising Exhibition' by F. C. Herrick, 1920
Please stand clear of the doors, we're about to take a pleasure
trip through the history of London because tomorrow marks the
150th anniversary of London Underground or simply the 'Tube'
as Londoners call it: exactly 150 years since the first train chuffed
its way between Paddington and Farringdon, on 9 January 1863.
That's why organizers decided to celebrate the Tube's kickoff
journey through a wide range of events and activities, 
including a steam age train running on the tracks.

'Holiday Attractions' by Charles Paine, 1921
'Brightest London' by Horace Taylor, 1924
'Shop Between Ten and Four' by Fletcher, 1926
Conceived by Charles Pearson, a visionary lawyer and solicitor
to the city who fought for thirty years for an underground system
to reduce traffic in the fast growing city, even though his idea was
initially dismissed as harebrained, the first underground railway
in the world became a reality. Regretfully Pearson died a few
weeks before the inauguration without enjoying his triumph:
on the first day nearly 40,000 passengers bought the ticket to
experience the new form of transport. Worthy of note, Paris
metro opened in 1900 while New York's only in 1904.

'Speed' by Alan Rogers, 1930
'Regent's Park' by Frank Ormrod, 1937
When I was a young girl I used to spend hours dreaming upon
the so-called 'diagram Beck', the stylized map cleverly designed
by Harry Beck in 1931 that has become part of popular culture,
a true pop icon that has been the subject of countless homages
and pastiches. I was totally absorbed in it, fascinated by the highly
evocative names of stations like Elephant & Castle, Swiss Cottage,
Chalk Farm, Pimlico, Maida Vale or Shepherd's Bush, names of
an almost otherworldly place to my teenage eyes.

'Go Out Into the Country' by Graham Sutherland, 1938
'Greet the Sun' by E.P. Lancaster, 1939
'War Work' by unknown artist, 1941
Besides I've always been enthralled by the oodles of adverts and
superb posters realized for the Underground by best British artists
and illustrators in its lengthy history: obviously making a limited
selection of them has been quite a difficult task because even
the oldest ones look modern and beautiful but feel free to dive
into the myriad of suggestions available at London Transport
Museum's online shop to get lost in admiration.

'Rhubarb and Roses' by John Griffiths, 1965
'Fly the Tube' by Geoff Senior, 1979
The Tube is a time capsule in itself, there are more than 40
abandoned stations on its network, the almost out of bounds
'ghost stations' stimulating the imagination of Londoners and
tourists who surmise a maze of tunnels, air raid shelters,
crypts and catacombs hidden beneath their feet: no wonder
it has been used as the riveting set for countless novels and
movies throughout the years (the list could go on and on
so you'd better probe into this page if need be).

'The Tate Gallery by Tube' by David Booth, 1986
'The new Kew by Tube' by Jennie Tuffs, 1987
Needles to say, I went into raptures about Tube map pastiches
and reworkings: some of them are pure genius and several are
made or published by freelance video and filmmaker Geoff Marshall
on his website (he holds the world record for visiting all the Tube's
stations in the shortest possible time, though) but if you want 
to have more fun, check Annie Mole's 'Going Underground' blog,
probably the most famous of a good many.
London Underground's popularity will never go down the tube!

> all posters © published by London Underground Ltd
compiled from Jinsuk Jim's album on iphotoscrap.com <

'Or take the Tube' by Nick Hardcastle, 1987


No comments:

Post a Comment