This Article will be concentrating on the work of the underground electrical draughtsman Harry Beck. Which will also be covering the developments of his tube map concept and how he has formed it into huge benefit for the London transport underground.
 “The striking Tube map that is recognised across the globe was the brainchild of Underground electrical draughtsman, Harry Beck, who produced this imaginative yet stunningly simple design back in 1933.
Beck based the map on the circuit diagrams he drew for his day job, stripping the sprawling Tube network down to basics.

The result was an instantly clear and comprehensible chart that would become an essential guide to London – and a template for transport maps the world over.   

Beck’s revolutionary design, with certain modifications and additions, survives to the present day and is set to serve London Underground and its millions of customers for many years to come (Garland, 2000).”   

Before I became a designer, I never took much interest or even wondered how public transport came to be what it is today. Now I have a better understanding in the area of design, and from observing the work of Harry Beck. I think his idea on using two separate elements such as the underground tube tunnels and a circuit board, was really innovative as both a designer and architect.   

“He designed a stylized map of the London Underground, known for its diagrammatic representation of the various train lines and lack of correspondence to the physical locations of stations. Beck began work on the design in 1933, and continued to work on it until his death in 1974, though he would not receive official recognition of his accomplishment until the 90s (Garland, 2010).”   

My view on the designer Harry Beck is that he was an artist that observed things in a creative and specific way that lead to a large amount of people’s benefits on transportation. From taking everyday objects and modifying them into something more complex and conceptually strong. Being a draughtsman artist his skills revolved around mechanical drawing and making preparations for scale drawings of machinery, buildings and devices.   

“Beck realised that when you’re on a train travelling underground, your geographical location is not what matters to you. The important thing is knowing how to get to your final destination, and where to change from one line to another. On his own initiative, Beck used this idea to create a revolutionary new kind of map, inspired by electrical circuit diagrams and sewer plans. Beck straightened all the tube lines, ignoring their true shapes, but making them much simpler to understand. He used only horizontals, verticals and diagonals, with different colours for each tube line. He also included a stylised River Thames, which provided a strong visual reference point for users (Anderson, 2005).”   

  “Excerpt of the London Underground
in a geographically accurate map”   


“Excerpt from the standard
London Underground map”   


By my understanding of the underground map designs produced by Beck, he basically found an interesting way of simplifying a complex system and use the concept of a circuit board diagram and used the basis of it to represent the geographic illustrations of the London underground tunnel routes. Making the journey of the travel more easier and more direct for commuters to reach their final destination. 




Ken Garland . (2000). Transport for London (Tfl). 

Image1. Ken Garland . (2010). NNDB.

Abigail Anderson. (2005). Icons.

Image2&3. Simon Clarke. (2000). Diagrams.