London's Underground Edwardian Tile Patterns

Since its commission by the Underground Group in 1913 and early use from 1916, master calligrapher Edward Johnston’s magnificent letterforms had gone largely unrecognised by history and the design world. In recent decades this has changed notably — though sadly quite a lot of nonsense and myth has been added at the same time. In 1977 a GLC blue plaque commemorating Johnston was unveiled in Hammersmith, London, and a more elaborate tribute at Farringdon station, also in London, in 2019. You can learn more about these two important events by clicking here.

2022 saw the publication of An Alphabet for the Underground: The Work and Legacy of Edward Johnston. This was the final work by leading transport historian Mike Horne, who died so unexpectedly on 26th March 2020. It is published by Capital Transport, see and covers the development of Johnston’s fine letterforms from inception and uses by graphic artists, signwriters and typefounders, through to its design for modern electronic applications. The book is the result of much new research and explains the practicalities of lettering and typesetting, putting the hype to one side. Anyone with a genuine interest in the subject has to have a copy of this important book.



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