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History of the roundel

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History of the roundel

The roundel first appeared on Underground station platforms in 1908. The bar and circle, as it became known, comprised a solid red enamel disc and horizontal blue bar. These early roundels, framed with timber mouldings, were introduced as station nameboards. The new device gave prominence to the name of the station, and helped passengers distinguish it from surrounding commercial advertising.

Dover Street (now Green Park) station, c1923.
Reference number: 1998/80413


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Underground logotype


In 1908 the various separate underground railway companies agreed to use the term 'Underground' for all their joint promotion of services. A distinctive logotype, designed with a large initial U and final D, began to appear outside stations and on advertising material. Like the bar and circle, this marks a significant step towards establishing a coherent graphic identity for the Underground.

Underground logotype at Belsize Park station, 1935.
Reference number: 1998/57991


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From the early 1910s, the Underground logotype began to appear across the bar and circle symbol. This integration was a significant development in establishing the roundel as a unified company trademark

Bar and circle symbol on a poster by Charles Sharland, 1914.
Reference number: 1983/4/421


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London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) logo


In 1905, shortly before the roundel was introduced, the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) registered the 'winged wheel' as its trademark. It only briefly appeared on the company's fleet of motor buses, but remained on uniform badges until LGOC became part of the Underground Group in 1912.

LGOC 'winged wheel' trademark on motorbus, 1907.
Reference number: 2002/2515


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Winged wheel symbol on LGOC cap badge, c1910.
Reference number: 2002/1029


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The Underground Group required a new approach to corporate identity from 1912, which would unite LGOC and existing underground railway services. A roundel symbol which combined the LGOC's winged wheel and the Underground's bar and circle was introduced on maps issued by the integrated company.

LGOC bus map cover featuring the ring and logotype, 1913.
Reference number: 1992/515


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Metropolitan Railway logotype


From mid-1914, the Metropolitan Railway introduced its own version of the Underground roundel. This originally appeared as a blue station name plate across a red diamond. The symbol was also used on publicity material and timetables, as shown here.

Red diamond symbol on Metropolitan Railway timetable cover, 1916.
Reference number: 1995/406


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