Metropolitan Railway Maps

Last updated 19 July 2011


All designs © Transport for London.

Thanks go to Peter B. Lloyd who wrote (under the pseudonym Albert P. Zammit) much of the descriptive material for this page.


METROPOLITAN RAILWAY
ILLUSTRATED GUIDE

The Metropolitan Railway Illustrated Guide is a 56-page booklet published by Morton & Cº on behalf of the Railway. It included a railway map.


NORTHWOOD TO GREAT MISSENDEN

Although the Met did not publish many maps before the 1920s, it did issue a fair bit of advertising material. One example is this postcard from the 1910s, showing the Railway from Northwood to Great Missenden, and the golf courses in the area. The reverse shows the seal of the Company.


“THE MET”
MAP OF LONDON

A map of the London underground railway system, produced by Charles Yerkes’ Underground Electric Railways of London (the London Underground Group), and bearing the UNDERGROUND logo. On the back of the map, however, the cover panel and various informational and promotional panels are for the Metropolitan Railway Company. This item is an unusual collaboration between those two rival companies. It had a small print run, and probably exists in only one edition. The design of the map is unmistakably that developed by the UERL since 1907. At the bottom of the sheet on the inside is printed Electric Railway House, Broadway, Westminster S.W. (Over St James Park Station), which was the address for the UERL. On the back, however, the cover panel is signed R.H. Selbie, General Manager [of the Metropolitan Railway], Baker St. Station, N.W..

The map is 17 × 13.4 inches (43 × 34 centimetres), and is printed by Johnson, Riddle, & Co. Ltd, London SE on low-grade war-time paper that is somewhat fragile. When folded closed it measures 4¼" × 6¾" (11cm × 17cm).

There is no printed date, but it is estimated to be from 1914, determined as follows: the map shows Goldhawk Road station, which opened 1st April 1914. On the other hand, it shows the extension of the Bakerloo Tube from Paddington to Queens Park (opened on 31st January 1915 as far as Kilburn Park, and to Queens Park on 11th February 1915) as under construction. It’s unlikely the map would have been produced in January 1915, just before the opening of the Bakerloo extension, so we may safely conclude that it was issued some time in 1914.

The renaming of the Charing Cross/Embankment station is puzzling. According to Doug Rose’s The London Underground: A Diagrammmatic History (the standard reference work for dating Underground maps), the following is a chronology of the stations in the area:

10 March 1906Bakerloo Tube Embankment station opened.
22 June 1907Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway extended south to Charing Cross station.
30 Nov. 1907Piccadilly Tube spur opened southwards from Holborn to new Strand station.
6 April 1914Embankment (Bakerloo) renamed Charing Cross (Embankment); Charing Cross (CCE&H) renamed
Charing Cross (Strand) and line extended one stop southwards to new station Charing Cross (Embankment).
9 May 1915CCE&H Charing Cross (Strand) renamed Strand and Charing Cross (Embankment) renamed Charing Cross.
Strand (Piccadilly) renamed Adlwych.

What we see on the map is that the simple name Charing Cross (now Embankment) is applied to the riverside interchange comprising the three stations on the District Railway, the CCE&H, and the Bakerloo Tube, and the same name is also applied to the neighbouring station on the CCE&H—without the distinguishing suffixes as recorded by Rose. Also, the terminus on the Piccadilly Tube is still called Strand. My interpretation is that this is consistent with the map being issued prior to 1915, and that the map-maker simply dropped the suffixes on the Charing Cross stations.


1914

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METROPOLITAN RAILWAY
MAP OF LONDON

The Metropolitan Railway Map of London issued in the 1920s and early ’30s opens out to 17 × 13 inches (43 × 33 cm). Listed on the reverse are places of interest near stations along the route, along with theatre, music hall, historical building and mainline termini information. These maps were also inserted into the annual Metro-Land guides published from 1915 to 1932, and were affixed by a perforated attachment to allow for easy removal.


1921

1924-25

1925

1926-27

1927

1928

1928-29

1931

1931

1932

1932

1921
G 1608/100,000
The previous map was re-used in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition, when the existing design was overprinted with a very large arrow above Wembley Station and the label BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION AND STADIUM. This was despite the fact that the cartography was from 1921, and City Road station (between Old Street and Angel) was still shown as open despite closing in August 1922. ▼

1924
G 1620/100,000

Issued for the opening of the Railway’s new branch to Watford on 4 November 1925. This version is sometimes mistaken with the similarly-coloured 1928 edition with the print code MET.16/68M., and the 1932 edition which shows the new Stanmore line under construction. ▼

1925
M574.

1926-27
M805/100M
This map is not listed in Letch’s 2000 Collector’s Guide. ▼

1928
G.3285/50M.

1928-29
MET.16/68M.


1931
M1090/100M.

1931
M1246/50M.

1932
M1495/100M.

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1930s
M1795/50M
Construction of the Stanmore branch began in November 1930, which substantiates Letch’s dating of this map as “1930s”. ▼

1930s
G3594/10M.


BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION

The British Empire Exhibition was originally planned as a once-only event, from April to October 1924. However, it was so successful that it was reopened from May to October 1925. The Exhibition was held at Wembley Park, and was intended as a huge visual showcase for Imperial wealth and prosperity that would strengthen the bonds between Britain and her Empire. This extravaganza was served by a special Exhibition Station on the Metropolitan Railway (which closed after the exhibition finished).

The Met. lost little time in promoting itself as “the World’s Pioneer Underground System”, and produced a pocket-sized map of the Metropolitan Railway and Connections, specifically to show how visitors may get to the BEE. The map is 5.9 × 4.3 inches (15 × 11 centimetres) in size and is printed in three colours on a stiff trifold card. The back has text and graphics in the same colours. The interesting artwork on the map’s cover is explained by the fact that the section of the Exhibition given to celebrating India’s contribution to the Empire did so in part by constructing a replica of the Taj Mahal. There are two variants of this map. The content on the cover and inside is identical between the two versions, except for the red or blueish-green background.

The layout and structure of this map is clearly derived from the fabric-backed 1912 pocket map that was issued by Yerkes’ Underground Electric Railway Company (UERL, aka the London Underground Group, LUG). But the colour-coding of the lines has been replace by a two-colour scheme: red for Metropolitan lines, and blue for all others. One must contrast the crudity of this map with the elegant diagram that the Metropolitan Railway used in its advertisements from 1925 to 1928 (and perhaps beyond those years) in the programmes for many of the events at Olympia, Wembley, and Madame Tussauds.

Most sources attribute the red map to 1924, but Peter Lloyd feels otherwise: He presumes the map was made to coincide with the opening of the second year of the Exhibition, in May 1925. The map has no date and there is no concrete evidence as to whether it was produced for the 1924 or 1925 BEE. His initial guess was that the design was produced in 1924, and re-printed for the 1925 Exhibition but with a different colour on the cover. But he noticed someting in the official guide leaflets for the 1924 and 1925 Exhibitions: The former has Kennedy North’s glorious multi-colour map of the Underground (see www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk; while the latter has no Underground map on it, but its back cover has an advertisement by the Metropolitan Railway, which refers to a “Vest Pocket Folder Map” and shows (in monochrome) precisely the same artwork (seen here) that we find on the front cover of this card map. That artwork did not appear on the 1924 guide. This is circumsantial evidence, but could suggest that both the blue and red versions of this card map were produced for the 1925 BEE event only.


1924?

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1925?

This official 1924 guide was designed by Kennedy North in 1923, and opens out to 19½ × 29 inches (49.5 × 73.5 centimetres). The inside has an illustrated plan of the Exhibition grounds. Of particular interest is the stylised map—with the Circle Line as a perfect circle—of the Metropolitan and District Railways and the Bakerloo Tube (plus some main-line routes) to the stations nearest the ground: the specially-created Exhibition Station, Sudbury, Wembley, Wembley Hill and Wembley Park. The reverse has information on the Commonwealth countries’ exhibits. These maps were designed for overseas tourists, and this one contains a stamp from the Where-to-go Travel Bureau of Pasadena, California. This particular map also includes an advertisement for the Cunard Line.


APRIL-OCTOBER 1924


ADVERTISING MAPS

These are examples of the series of advertisements put out by the Metropolitan Railway Company in the 1920s. They were placed in guidebooks to major visitor attractions (Madame Tussauds, Wembley Stadium, Olympia Exhibition Hall etc.). They encouraged people to use the Metropolitan system by pointing out that the Railway could take them directly to the relevant attraction, and informed the travelling public about the network.

This map is an innovative and neglected map in the history of public transport cartography, which prefigured Harry Beck’s seminal 1933 map in many ways. Considering that it was first published eight years before Beck’s famous rectilinear diagram, this is a very sophisticated and abstract map. Instead of Beck’s horizontals, verticals, and diagionals, there is a central ellipse and a series of congruent curves. There is no background topography—not even the River Thames. Station symbols are diamonds, rather than the usual circular blobs used in most railway maps, or the rectangles used in the District Railway map. (Note that Beck’s first edition of January 1933 also used diamond station symbols. It is likely he would have seen one of the instances of this Metropolitan map.) The station labels are written in a neat, uniform font, all horizontal (again adumbrating Beck’s design, in contrast with Stingemore’s Underground card maps of 1925–1932, in which station names are written in arbitrary directions). Interchanges with mainline rail services are shown by two concentric diamonds. Alongside each interchange station is a small text box listing the mainline railways that interchange there (except at the New Cross stations, where the lists are not boxed). The station labels are all in upper case, with sole exception of the word and in KINGS CROSS and ST PANCRAS; at other station labels we see the caseless ampersand, &.

Although it is an excellent map, it was never (so far as I know) issued separately as a card or leaflet. During this period, the Met was issuing dreadful spaghetti maps on cards and leaflets. I believe this design only ever existed as an advertisement in various guidebooks.

There is no indication of the designer who conceived this map. The geometry of it does, however, have a similarity to Kennedy North’s unique map of the London Underground created for the 1924 British Empire Exhibition (BEE). North’s map used a perfect circle for Inner Circle Railway, but the outlying branches were more geographic, albeit highly stylised. If the present map was not done by Kennedy North, at least North’s influence can be seen in it. I imagine that this design was too revolutionary for its day. After North’s brilliantly executed and exuberant design for the 1924 BEE leaflet, the 1925 BEE offering had a dull and pedestrian design by J.C.Betts, accompanied by the almost unreadable “vest pocket” card map. Given the resistance that Beck experienced against his own industrial-style map of the London Underground (which looked uncannily like an electric circuit diagram), North and whoever did this 1925 map must have had a hard time convincing the senior management at the Metropolitan Railway Company that London was ready for psychedelic maps.

This diagrammatic map of the Metropolitan Railway network was published as an advertisement in the Official Programme of “The Cossacks” event at Olympia, 3rd to 28th July 1925, published by Fleetway Press. It is printed in black ink on one internal 7.4 × 9.75 inche page of the 16-page catalogue. The programme comprises text and photographs about the Cossacks.

The printed date on title page is July 3rd to July 28th, and printed on the header of several inside pages is Olympia, 1925.

There are a few differences between this edition and that seen in 1928:

• The branch from Kensington High Street to Putney Bridge is not yet shown. This line had in fact been opened since 1880, but used only by the District Railway. At some point in the late 1920s, the Metropolitan Railway was given rights to run services along this segment, and it was shown on the Metropolitan maps.

• All the station names are shown in a uniform small font. Later maps (i.e. 1927 and 1928) were amended to use a large typeface for the names of stations at key visitor attractions (ADDISON RD (OLYMPIA), BAKER STREET, and WEMBLEY PARK).

• The arrowed label for Wembley Park station says BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION AND STADIUM, as the second year of this event was still going on (May to October 1925).


July 3rd to July 28th 1925

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This copy of the Met. Diagramme was published in the Official Programme of “Betram W. Mills’ Circus” at Olympia, 21st December 1927 to 24th January 1928 (date printed on the fly page). The 16-page programme, published by Fleetway Press, comprises other adverts and information about the circus. Unfortunately, the outer cover (which I assume was originally present) has disappeared.

The map is printed in black ink on one 738" × 934" inside page. On the facing page is a local area map around Olympia, which completely omits the Metropolitan Railway, and in particular its southbound service to Olympia, and shows instead the Central London Railway to Shepherds Bush (whence passengers can take a bus to Olympia) and the District Railway, and especially its northbound service to Olympia. Some stylistic elements of the map call to mind the contemporary maps of the UERL (Underground Electric Railways Company, or London Underground Group), although their UNDERGROUND logo is not used here. (The UERL owned the Central London Railway and the District Railway, but not the Metropolitan Railway. To see these two maps facing each other, each denying the existence of the other’s services, highlights the rivalry between the Metropolitan and the London Underground Group.

There are a few differences between this edition and that seen in 1925:

• The branch from Kensington High Street to Putney Bridge is now shown. This line had in fact been opened since 1880, but used only by the District Railway. At some point in the late 1920s, the Metropolitan Railway was given rights to run services along this segment, and it was shown on the Metropolitan maps. (I can’t find a date for this. In fact, the only source I could find states the contrary, that the Putney Bridge service was run exclusively by the District Railway. Yet, we see in this map that the Metropolitan claimed that they were running trains to Putney Bridge.)

• Earls Court station is shown as an interchange, but it is not stated what it interchanges with.

• All the station names are shown in a uniform small font, except Addison Rd (Olympia) and Baker Street, which are enlarged because they are near to key visitor attractions.

• The arrow and label at Addison Road are roughly drawn, in contrast to the 1925 edition which shows smoothly drawn arrows and labels for both Addison Road and Wembley Park. Maybe a different hand at work?


1927

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This last map was published in the Official Guide and Catalogue of The New Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition (i.e. the waxworks). (The “New” refers to the fact that this is the reopened waxworks after the fire of 1925.) The guide is 518 × 8 inches, and contains 96 pages. Printed on the title page is the date April 1928. The map is printed in black ink on one internal page of the catalogue.

The Baker Street station symbol is drawn extra-large because the Baker Street Station exit is about thirty yards from Madame Tussauds. (The text says it “adjoins” Madame Tussauds, which is not true. You have to cross Allsop Place to get to the waxworks.) Likewise the BAKER STREET label is written in a much larger font. The ADDISON RD station label is also written in larger letters than other stations because of the exhibitions held there at Olympia. WEMBLEY PARK is written in the standard text size, but it has a large text box alongside and arrowed to it that says WEMBLEY PARK STADIUM.


1928

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Published Dated Reference Title & Description
Metropolitan Railway
1921 none G 1608/100,000 METROPOLITAN RAILWAY
MAP OF LONDON
1924 none G 1620/100,000
BEE overprint
1925? none M574.
1926-27 none M805/100M
1927 none G3594/10M.
1928 none G.3285/50M.
1928-29 none MET.16/68M.
1931 none M1090/100M.
1931 none M1246/50M.
1930s none M1495/100M.
1930s none M1795/50M
1924? none none
“red” cover
HOW TO GET TO AND FROM THE
BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION,
WEMBLEY PARK
1925? none none
“blue” cover
13.7.2010



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