Changing the face of London Underground

Changing the face of London Underground

Poster titled ‘Opening of the Piccadilly line extension’

Artist: Cecil Walter Bacon (1905-92)
Copyright: TfL from the London Transport Museum collection

In the early 1930s, Holden and Pick refined the elements of what soon became an instantly recognisable London Transport corporate design style. This was applied to new structures from bus shelters to Tube stations right across the city. It changed the face of London.

Before starting on this 'adventure', as Holden called it, he and Pick went on an architectural study tour of northern Europe in 1930. They particularly admired the work of Willem Dudok (1884-1974) in Holland and Erik Gunnar Asplund (1885-1940) in Stockholm. These European influences became the framework of ideals, reflected in Holden's next station series for the Piccadilly line extensions, built from 1931-3.

The prototype for what Holden modestly called his 'brick boxes with concrete lids' was Sudbury Town. This established a 'kit of parts' for new stations. Extended horizontal and vertical planes were used to create simple but bold forms and spaces. Traditional English brickwork was combined with smooth concrete, metal window frames and glazed tiling. Sometimes a tower was added or the box became a drum, as at Arnos Grove. Nearly all of these stations, generally considered Holden's finest, are now listed buildings.

Available to view is London Transport Museum's video about the Piccadilly line extension, filmed between 1930 and 1932.

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