FDC: London Underground

This FDC commemorates 150 years of the London Underground, the world’s oldest underground transport network.

FDC Cover UK 2013 London Underground

Country: United Kingdom
Date: 9th January 2013

Stamp Details

Left to right, top to bottom:

  • 1863 – Metropolitan Railway Opens – using carriages drawn by steam engines
  • 1898 – Tunnelling Below London Streets – what a job!
  • 1911 – Commute from the Suburbs
  • 1934 – Boston Manor Art Deco Station
  • 1938 – Classic Rolling Stock
  • 1999 – Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf

Click here to read the Royal Mail press release about this issue, which provides full details of the stamps and the history behind them.

Follow The Signs

The insert to the FDC focusses on a particular aspect of the London Underground: the familiar and iconic station signs. The design is known as the roundel. Click the image below for easier reading.

FDC Cover UK 2013 London Underground

The Tube Map – Ahead of its Time

The London Underground is known simply as the underground or the tube, and the trains that run through the tunnels beneath London are usually called tube trains. The map that travellers use to navigate the underground system is a design classic, a revolutionary way of representing the network. It was designed by a chap called Harry Beck, who was an engineering draughtsman. Beck applied his engineering skills to create the map, as Wikipedia says:

Thus Beck drew his famous diagram, which looked more like and indeed was based upon the concept of an electrical schematic than a true map, on which all the stations were more-or-less equally spaced.

You can read about the tube map here on Wikipedia, and you can read the story of Harry Beck here (Wikipedia). Harry’s story is a cautionary tale. He designed the tube map as a freelance draughtsman completely of his own volition. Corporate hubris at his independent status prevented him from getting true recognition for his work during his lifetime. Only recently has his achievement been recognised, [as described here on the Transport for London web site – link now dead, sorry. The hubris has returned.]

If you are planning a trip to London, you can also download free tube maps from the Transport for London web site.

For a new interpretation of the tube map, and an innovative way to plan your trip, visit London-tubemap.com.

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