Harry Beck

From Academic Kids

Harry Beck (Henry C. Beck, 19031974) was a graphic designer, best known for creating the present London Underground Tube map in 1933.

At that time, Beck was an engineering draughtsman at the London Underground Signals Office, and constructed the diagram in his spare time. In 1947, he quit London Transport to begin teaching typographics and colour design at the London School of Printing and the Graphic Arts.

He continued to update the Tube map on a freelance basis, but the future Victoria Line was added in 1960 by the Publicity Officer, Harold Hutchison. Many other changes were also introduced to the map without Beck's approval.

Beck struggled furiously to regain control of the map, but responsibility for the map was eventually given to a third designer, Paul Garbutt. He changed the style of the map to look more like Beck's maps of the 1930s, and also introduced the 'vacuum flask' shape for the Circle Line. Although Beck preferred this version to Hutchison's, he wasn't completely satisfied. He started to make a new map, based both on his earlier works and Garbutt's ideas. When this version too was rejected, despite its simplicity and ease of reading, Beck realized London Transport would never publish any map by his hand. Nevertheless he continued to make sketches and drawings for the map until his death.

After long failing to acknowledge Beck's importance as the original designer of the Tube map, London Regional Transport finally created the Beck gallery at the London Transport Museum in the early 1990s, where his works can be seen. A commemorative plaque was put up at Finchley Central tube station, Beck's home station, as well. Recently, Transport for London has also started to credit Beck for the original idea on the modern Tube maps.

External links

References

  • Ken Garland. Mr Beck's Underground Map. Harrow Weald, Middx: Capital Transport, 1994. ISBN 1854141686.
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