Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Drawing - Original sketch for the London Underground Railways Map
  • Original sketch for the London Underground Railways Map
    Beck, Harry, born 1901 - died 1974
  • Enlarge image

Original sketch for the London Underground Railways Map

  • Object:

    Drawing

  • Place of origin:

    London (Drawn)

  • Date:

    1931 (Drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Beck, Harry, born 1901 - died 1974 (Designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and coloured inks on squared paper pasted onto card

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Ken Garland Esq

  • Museum number:

    E.814-1979

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

All versions and imitations of the modern London underground map derive from this first rough sketch. Beck, an electrical engineer and draughtsman, applied the principles of drawing complex electrical circuitry as an idealized diagram to map making, showing only the relationships and not the distances between various points. The geographically accurate map that had been in use since 1919 was becoming difficult to read, as the inclusion of the new stations in the suburbs to scale meant that the inner areas showed the central stations in a confusing cluster. This apparently simple and obvious idea of a diagram was completely new, and took some time to be accepted by the management, although the public took to it immediately. Virtually all metro systems throughout the world now use Beck's idea.

Physical description

Rough sketch showing London Underground lines in a crude diagrammatic form

Place of Origin

London (Drawn)

Date

1931 (Drawn)

Artist/maker

Beck, Harry, born 1901 - died 1974 (Designer)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and coloured inks on squared paper pasted onto card

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed on back in red ink 1 TOP and labelled with a typed notice and signed by the donor, with details of the design etc.

Dimensions

Height: 190 mm, Width: 240 mm

Object history note

This diagram was given by Henry Beck to Ken Garland in 1965. A printed copy of the first edition of the completed map, dated 1-[19]33 and of the second, presumed also to be 1933, were also given by Mr Garland to the Museum in 1979. See nos. E.815-1979 and E.816-1979.

Descriptive line

Original sketch for the London Underground Railways Map, 1931. Henry C. Beck

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Ken Garland: The design of the London Underground Diagram Penrose Annual 1969 (Vol.62) pp. 68- 82
Ken Garland: Obituary, Henry C Beck Design Magazine, December 1974
Lambert, Susan. Drawing: Technique & Purpose. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1981. p.62-63.
ed. Tom Harper Maps and the 20th Century : Drawing the Line London : The British Library, 2016.

Labels and date

Henry C. Beck (1901-1974)
Original Sketch for the London
Underground Railways Map. 1931
Pencil and coloured inks on squared
paper

All versions and imitations of the modern
London underground map derive from this
first rough sketch. Beck, an electrical
engineer and draughtsman, applied the
principles of drawing complex electrical
circuitry as an idealized diagram to map
making, showing only the relationships and
not the distances between various points.
This apparently simple and obvious idea was
completely new, and took some time to be
accepted by the management, although the
public took to it immediately. Virtually all
metro systems throughout the world use
Beck's idea.

Given by Ken Garland Esq.
E.814-1979 []

Materials

Ink; Card

Subjects depicted

Maps

Categories

Maps

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.