Travelling on packed Tubes on weekday mornings when you are squashed in to small spaces against closing doors, it is hard to imagine a time when clever marketing was needed to persuade people to get on board. But turn the clock back a few decades and you have a colourful array of beautifully designed posters encouraging those living in the capital to explore the countryside at the weekend or up sticks to a modern housing development on the outskirts of city and use the London Underground to commute in.
The story of how the London Underground helped serve a growing London (or indeed brought about the growth of London) has been well documented – see for example The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever . Mind the Map, a new exhibition at London Transport Museum, tells the story of how maps and other illustrative artwork in shaping the network. Find out about the origins of the fold-out Tube map and how it has changed little over the years. And see the colourful maps that chart the shopping centres and theatres of London.
But there is much more to Mind the Map as artists have been commissioned to produce special pieces, like Stephen Walter who has mapped out what lies beneath ground. It is a congested map showing secret tunnels, burial sites and disused stations. Other installations graphically chart individuals’ journeys across the capital over the course of many years. What would it look like if your movements were recorded?
Travelling on the Tube in amongst all the congestion it is easy to take this vast transport network for granted – Mind the Map will make you stop and think a little deeper about the world’s first subterranean railway.