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History of the roundel

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History of the roundel - page 2

Johnston's roundel


In 1913 the Underground's publicity manager, Frank Pick, commissioned the typographer Edward Johnston to design a company typeface. By 1917 the proportions of the roundel had been reworked to suit the new lettering and incorporate the Underground logotype. The solid red disc became a circle, and the new symbol was registered as a trademark.

Section from an anonymous poster, 1920.
Reference number: 1983/4/856


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By 1919 Johnston's standardised roundel symbol was being used on publicity. It began to appear on station exteriors and platform nameboards from the early 1920s.

Johnston's roundel on platform name board, 1933.
Reference number: 1998/81853


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In the 1920s, Johnston introduced exact guidelines for the reproduction of the roundel. The proportions of the bullseye, as he called it, were re-designed to incorporate the standardised company typeface.

Drawing of proportions for Johnston's roundel, c1925.
Reference number: 2000/9202


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Between 1920 and 1933, Johnston designed a variation of the roundel for each operating division of the Underground Group. This provided a unified identity for both rail and road services.

LGOC roundel on a poster by Scott Langley, 1929.
Reference number: 1983/4/2710


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Holden adopts the roundel


The roundel became an integral part of station architecture in the 1920s. From 1924, Frank Pick commissioned the architect Charles Holden to design new stations and reconstruct existing ones. Holden introduced the roundel to station architecture in a number of ways. Venetian masts appeared outside stations, which acted like flagpoles to support the logo in three dimensions. Stained glass roundels were incorporated into clerestory windows above station entrances. The architectural roundel greatly assisted passengers in identifying stations at street level.

Refurbished Colliers Wood station, 2001.
Reference number: 2002/2550


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In the early 1930s, Holden began designing new stations for the northern and western extensions of the Piccadilly line. Roundels were introduced on station platforms, with thin bronze frames to match the new handrails and poster frames. The roundel, which continued to act as a platform name board, was now incorporated into the very fabric of the station interior. During the 1930s, Holden also employed the roundel in his designs for bus stop flags and shelters.

Cockfosters station platform, enamel nameboard on concrete, designed by Holden, 1933.
Reference number: 1998/84687


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London Passenger Transport Board


In 1933, the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) was created as a single giant public authority to run all bus, tram and underground railway services across the capital. The new Board wanted to introduce a unifying logo to represent all its newly acquired services. A winged symbol incorporating the new initials was designed by C W Bacon, but lasted only a few months. Frank Pick, now Chief Executive of the new LPTB, recommended a return to the bar and circle device.

LPTB symbol, by C W Bacon, on the cover of a booklet, 1933.
Reference number; 1995/405


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The London Passenger Transport Board adopted the trading name 'London Transport' in 1933. It used this shortened name on all signs, vehicles and publicity. Johnston reworked the proportions of the roundel again to incorporate the organisation's new title.

Roundel with trading name 'London Transport', 1933.
Reference number: 2002/3810


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