The Tube Map

The London Tube Map fundamentally lacks key mapping elements such as topography and urban detail, but what it does is encourage a mental map of London, one that exists inside the passenger’s head allowing them to traverse the city, much like London’s cabbies achieve when studying The Knowledge.

The beauty of its design, as Caroline Roope points out in her excellent book, The History of the London Underground Map, is that it’s as much at home hanging on the wall of a modern art gallery as it is stuffed in the pocket of a London commuter.

The flexibility of the Tube Map, and its capacity to grow and adapt along with the city it represents, have inspired numerous interpretations of what it means to traverse the metropolis.

There are plenty of differences between Harry Beck’s first effort and the map we know today. An extra 200 stations have been added, along with additional lines, the latest being the Elizabeth Line with the addition of charging Zones and an index.

Beck’s original had station names in capitals, as was customary at the time, every station is marked with a ‘blob’, and interchanges are shown with multiple circles, even so, the spirit of the modern map is detectable.

Today in a belated acknowledgement of Beck’s genius the modern map has this description: “This diagram is an evolution of the original design conceived in 1931 by Harry Beck”.

Straight roads

The Romans were a canny lot, take Ermine Street, its route between London Bridge and Liverpool Street stations (not that either existed) is almost a straight line of less than a mile. Now the City Fathers have designated the route thus:

L/By London Bridge Street
L Borough High Street
R Southwark Street
R & L Thrale Street
R Southwark Bridge Road
F Southwark Bridge
R Upper Thames Street
Forward Byward Street
L Minories
B/L Mansell Street
R Whitechapel High Street
L Osborn Street
F Brick Lane
L Bethnal Green Road
L Shoreditch High Street
F Bishopsgate

Liverpool Street Station on right, which means passengers having to cross a busy road to enter the station. Please cabbies tell me I’m wrong with this route.

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Zone 6

ZONE 6 (n.) Hinterland devoid of Hansom cabs and drivers doth willing, by carriage, to transport gentlemen to those lands.

Dr. Johnson’s London Dictionary for publick consumption in the twenty-first century avail yourself on Twitter @JohnsonsLondon

Unsolicited mail

Those of you who have too much time on their hands might have noticed a redesigned Contact Page on CabbieBlog, which now has a contact form, replacing an email address that, in an unguarded moment, I had foolishly given out for those who – well – wanted to contact me.

Plenty of tech-savvy people, upon discovering that email address, were then encouraged to inform me that my site was in need of improvement, which was very kind of them.

Olivia told me she was:

…always looking for good quality websites and when I found your website today, I was really intrigued by the content. I know you’re very busy [I’m not, having retired], so the point is I’m reaching out to you about an awesome partnership that I think would really benefit your audience. Do you accept guest posts? I actually write about some of the topics that are covered in your blog and would like to contribute to your site.

If Olivia had spent time looking at my ‘quality’ website she would have found the page helpfully titled ‘Write a Post’.

Lorna admired the look of CabbieBlog and was gushing in her praise:

I was examining your website and see you have a good design and it looks great. But it was not ranking on Google and other major search engine.

While Swadesh begged to differ with this critique:

Would you be interested in a possible Design/redesigning of the websites or designing new website, with addition feature that might benefit the overall usability and user experience which usually leads to better sales.

I’m always being asked for advice about The Knowledge but I couldn’t help this contact who shall remain anonymous:

Hello I just came across your blog, and I am interested in doing the knowledge, my problem is if I am going somewhere, like yesterday I get anxious if I do not know my way. I went to Tatershall Castle, I checked beforehand and it said 4 minutes from Embankment station, I took the wrong turning, I had to ask several people including Cabbies, to get there, it is always the same I am going somewhere new even when people, give me precise direction I still find it difficult, do you recommend the knowledge?

My advice would be try looking in that river outside Embankment Station as the Tattershall Castle is a rather large ship.

Following the deluge of unsolicited email I was reminded:

As Stress Awareness Month approaches, the latest statistics once again demonstrate how important it is for employers to familiarise themselves with the signs and symptoms of stress, especially as an increase in the cost of living threatens to compound the issues faced by many.

Maybe just maybe if I received less bumph I wouldn’t be as stressed.

London in Quotations: William Morris

Forget six counties overhung with smoke, / Forget the snorting and piston stroke, / Forget the spreading of the hideous town; / Think rather of the pack-horse on the down, / And dream of London, small, and white, and clean.

William Morris (1834-1896)

Taxi Talk Without Tipping

%d bloggers like this: