“The man who made the London Underground”
– London Transport Chief Executive (1878-1941)
Frank Pick was in 1878 and studied Law in London before starting work for the North Eastern Railway. He worked as assistant to the manager of the North Eastern Railway, Sir George Gibb, and was invited to continue working as his assistant when Gibb was appointed managing director of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL) in 1906. Pick later became the Commercial Manager of the UERL in 1912.
Pick became increasingly unhappy with the diversity and seemingly endless variations of typefaces that were being used across the system. Therefore, he introduced a standardized approach to the advertising and lettering of the system. He steered the development of the London Underground’s corporate identity by commissioning the distinctive commercial art, graphic design and modern architecture. Pick was also responsible for the Underground posters, which encouraged more passengers onto the tube.
To achieve his goal of a united system and standardized graphic approach he commissioned both Edward Johnston in 1916 and Cherled Holden in 1921. Frank Pick was eventually put in charge of the entire London Underground when it was nationalized in 1933 (he declined both a Knighthood and a Peerage for his work).
UNIFYING THE SYSTEM TODAY
The corporate identity of Transport for London (TfL) division is based on the roundel design which first appeared at Underground station in the early 1900s. Since then, each division of the entire system has its own roundel for example, the overground system, coaches, buses and the underground. These form the key elements of the corporate identity of the company. This communicates that while they are part of TfL, they also operate independently. The controlled and consistent application of TfL’s corporate identity relies on control of the roundel’s distribution and use.