[NetBehaviour] London's Underground - Edwardian Tile Patterns.
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Jul 31 01:58:56 CEST 2006
London's Underground - Edwardian Tile Patterns.
From the 1860s London had two growing sub-surface Underground railways,
those of the Metropolitan and District. Deep-level ‘tubes’, in the form
of the City & South London Railway and Central London Railway, opened in
1890 and 1900 respectively. The owners all faced the same problem – how
to maximise the illumination of their gloomy gas-lit platforms. The only
answer until then was masses of plain white reflective tiling. However,
by the turn of the century, with electric lighting improving all the
time, thoughts of something more than functional came from the world’s
of art and finance.
LONDON has been the home of the largest, most extensive decorative
tiling project ever undertaken in Britain – one that arguably helped
make London’s Underground system the most famous in the world. This site
offers a small insight into this innovative graphic explosion of design
The tiling of over 90 tube platforms, and associated passageways,
staircases and surface-level booking halls, probably amounted to the
largest single creation of decorative art on public display anywhere –
and arguably the longest and thinnest art gallery in the world. Each
station had a unique coloured pattern along the entire length of its
platforms and some of them are reproduced here to give just a small
flavour of their impact. Platform walls were tiled to over the height of
a man and were up to 350 feet long – in all some six miles long. For
some years, station modernization has meant that more and more of these
polychrome decorations have disappeared for ever. Now only a minority of
the stations give any idea of their original splendour. For the last
quarter of a century, diligent and punctilious work has captured them,
sometimes only days ahead of their disappearance. Some of them have been
assembled here, so that the dramatic effect can be appreciated in full,
as never before.
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