“a thought process working itself out in the public gaze”

mikeyashworth, writing at Flickr.com:

“…these are the best and only examples of the ‘District Railway’ style of early roundel with the smaller disc. The ‘larger’ disc survives fleetingly at Covent Garden and Caledonian Road.”

Text © Ian Jones 2012-14 at 150greatthingsabouttheunderground.com:

“A lot of what was truly old on the Underground was truly awful, and thank heavens it no longer exists. Traces linger in picture form, and that’s where they belong, as warnings from history.

The old roundels at Ealing Broadway are different, though. They’re quite clearly not right, in the sense of not resembling what they would in short order be superseded with. But it’s right they exist, as they’re a reminder of how art and design can evolve for the better. They’re waymarkers on a journey that ends in splendour.

Mark Ovenden dates these as belonging to the first half of the 1910s, a few years before Edward Johnston developed the typeface that led to the present-day roundel being registered as a trademark in 1917.

Two can be found on the District line platforms at Ealing Broadway, and are easy to locate and photograph. Even earlier examples are tucked away in corners of Covent Garden and Caledonian Road.

They’re all a bit ungainly, ill-formed and trying to be grown up: the Underground in adolescence. But they capture a thought process working itself out in the public gaze – one that deserves to be preserved within a 21st century Underground network that continues to work itself out in (almost always) constructive, creative ways.

These roundels are worth keeping for the inspiration they continue to provide today, here, right now. For they aren’t aesthetic dead ends. They’re fascinating stumbles towards genius.”

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