Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Gloucester Road, London
A note from underground
On the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, a brief tribute to one of its architects.
In 1903 Leslie Green was appointed architect to the Underground Electric Railway Company of London. His job was to design stations for the Bakerloo, Piccadilly, and Northern lines, to make these stations work within the demanding engineering requirements that resulted from building a complex railway network beneath a great city, and to devise a distinctive but consistent style that would make them recognisable. Over the next five years he designed more than 50 stations, creating a visual style, with the now-familiar ox-blood coloured tiles, that became synonymous with the Underground. My photograph shows the sun catching some of the gold lettering on the tiles of Gloucester Road station. Green's design style, with Arts and Crafts arches, semi-circular windows, and the ubiquitous tiles, was a success – in developing it, Green could be called one of the fathers of the idea of the corporate identity, and its importance is acknowledged by the fact that many of his stations are now listed. Sadly, Green did not go on to yet more successful architectural projects. He died in 1908, still in his thirties.