Art and the Underground

Yesterday went to a talk at Bromley U3A by David Burnell on the art found on London Underground. Starting from the appointment of Frank Pick in 1906 to an ailing Underground Electric Railways Company of London. He was very critical of the way the railways, there were a number of different companies at the time, advertised and marketed their product. With a strong interest in design, he set about creating a unified corporate image for the companies, which he persuaded to enter into joint marketing.


These initiatives included the building of new stations with more space and the creation of a corporate logo for the underground.

Wood Green Station. CC BY-SA 3.0,
Sudbury Town by Russell Trebor, CC BY-SA 2.0,


Original Underground logo. Oxyman [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
He also commissioned a group of artists to produce posters which advertised why people should come into central London, visit the rural countryside and move to the suburbs, all with the help of the Underground.

Up River by Underground. By Tony Sarg (1880–1942 –, Public Domain,
Tower of London. By Louis Whirter (1873-1932) –, Public Domain,
Golders Green Poster.By Unknown. Public Domain,
Brightest London poster. By Horace Taylor 1881–1934. subway poster, 1924, Public Domain,













One thing I hadn’t realised was that the term ‘the tube’ used by many Londoners to describe their underground system is actually older than the term ‘underground’ the name given to the network in the early 20th century. The use of ‘tube’ dates back to the late 19th century when the term tube railway was coined by a MP during a debate in parliament about the building of an underground railway.

Some examples of posters can be seen at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden but the majority are stored in the museums depot at Acton in west London and can only be accessed 3 or 4 times a year, although there is also access to the collection online via the Museums website

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