Monday 9 April 2012

Mappy Monday - London Railways

New Railway Map of London & Suburbs (Bacon's Atlas 1890)
Some of the most heavily used maps today are railway maps, and in particular those for major cities like London. Tourists in London know that they can always find their way around using the famous London Underground map. In fact, some never venture onto the much bigger network of buses because they feel so comfortable with the familiar colour-coded diagram. You see it all over the place as a decorative item, it has become such a design classic. You can even see it online and download it (and several others) from the Transport for London website.

The map above is its ancestor, although it doesn't look very similar to the modern map. Many of the lines and stations from the modern London Underground network are clearly shown, but there is no distinction between the 'underground' and 'overground' networks as there is today. Many of the modern-day underground stations that you can see on this map appear as part of the Metropolitan and District Line, although today you will find them on the Metropolitan, Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines. Anyone familiar with the London Underground will see that the Piccadilly, Northern, Central, Victoria and Jubilee lines are under-represented; the Victoria and Jubilee Lines date only from the late 20th century, while those parts of the other lines that run under central London use tunnels deep below the ground, which had not been dug when this map was produced in 1890. The ones that you can see here are of the comparatively shallow 'cut and cover' type.

Metropolitan Railway 1870
This picture dates from 20 years before the map, and depicts part of the Metropolitan Railway. I don't know which station it is, but it looks an awful lot like Baker Street (I've spent an awful lot of time waiting for trains there over the last 30 years, so I should know!).

One of the most striking differences, though, is that the modern 'map' isn't really a map at all, it's a diagram, and isn't at all to scale. When it is drawn to scale it doesn't look at all familiar, so you can have fun comparing the two, but it may not be as easy as you think. If you look closely you will see that the railway lines are overlaid on a very faint street map, although you have to have pretty good eyesight to read most of it. Enjoy.


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