In 1908, the very first Underground logo, known as a roundel, was introduced at St James’ Park station. It consisted of a red disk intersected with a blue bar. During the same period, the word “Underground” also began to be used across London’s many separate railway lines which marked the beginning of a more unified identity for what was soon known as the Tube. The roundel was registered as a trademark in 1917. While some of the proportions and colors have changed, it is still the same recognizable logo from over one hundred years ago.
A few years later, Frank Pick, of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London Limited, wanted to encourage more Londoners to travel by Tube. Pick began commissioning graphic posters from artists such as Graham Sutherland, Abram Games and Edward McKnight Kauffer, that could be appreciated by subterranean travelers and street strollers alike. The resulting posters are bold, colorful works depicting elements of train travel, sometimes in the abstract. Even Man Ray designed for the London Underground, in 1937.
These posters, along with other Tube-related historical ephemera, are now held at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. The originals are also available to view by way of guided tour. Below are some of the most creative and beautiful posters in the collection. Gaze upon these delightful designs and be transported.