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Sign: London - London Underground History - Our heritage: Maps

Chalk Farm, Adelaide Rd, Chalk Farm, London NW3 2BP, UK
Click here for a map that contains other items in the area

On the sign:

Our heritage: Maps
In the early days of the Underground, maps of the transport system were plotted against the geography of London, with the distance between stations faithfully represented on a map. But as the network expanded, this type of geographic map became less practical. Designers could not portray both the high density of stations in central London and the sprawling arrangement at the furthest reaches of the network.

The dilemma of presenting this customer information was solved by Harry Beck, a draughtsman for the Underground. His map, which was developed in 1931, was inspired by an electrical circuit diagram. The dense central area was enlarged in relation to the outlying areas allowing both to be shown more clearly. This ’diagrammatic’ map has now been adopted as the standard by metros around the world.

Find out more at

Below left: This map from 1908 shows the difficulty faced in legibly plotting stations on a geographic map
Below right: The 1933 Harry Beck map was marked by the Underground’s roundel and the abbreviation for ’London Passenger Transport Board’
Right: Harry Beck’s 1933 map showed the central area much more clearly than a geographic map

Logo of the Underground

© TFL courtesy of the London Transport Museum

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A venture of the City of London, Transport For London, and the London’s Transport Museum. In this project, which is usually located in the subway stations, a sign is displayed on each platform with the history of the current train station, or a page in the history of the London Underground. The signs are next to the other signs with train line maps or advertisements.

The current sign is at Chalk Farmt Station, and it focuses on the train’s maps.

The station where the sign was located was photographed that day Click for a larger image

A map of the subway from 2019 can be found here Click for sign's details

The number that appears on the sign frame is probably the serial number of the sign.

The ultimate street signs, historical sites and house numbers

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