Sunday, April 22, 2018

Gloucester Road, London

On the tracks of old railways (2): Mosaic

The London underground network developed and grew long before Leslie Green designed his distinctive tiled stations for London (see my previous post). The first line opened in 1863, and by 1868, this station was built on Gloucester Road to accommodate lines run by the Metropolitan Railway and the District Railway (later the word ‘Line’ replaced ‘Railway’ in the names). This part of the station, on Gloucester Road itself, has a Classical facade of cream coloured brickwork topped with ball finials and stone urns.

What sets off this frontage, though, is the large and excellent sign, just beneath the cornice. I suppose nowadays few people look at it. Their eyes are drawn to the signage down at pavement level, which clearly identifies the building as an underground station. But when I’m passing, I always look up and admire the effort that went into this sign: its pleasant lettering (with rather a top-heavy ‘R’ but a lovely extra curly ampersand) and its pale green mosaic, the green tiles varied enough in hue to give the background some interest. It’s worth anyone’s glance.

The photograph of the whole facade, above, is by A. Brady; the one of the mosaic sign, at the top of the post, is by me.


Hels said...

The pale green mosaic is lovely to look at, but I am assuming it was meant to be decorative, not functional. A newcomer would have to cross the road and look up at the mosaic, just to read the words Gloucester Rd.

Cream coloured brickwork is younger-looking and fresher than dark red bricks.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you, Hels, for your comment. I think it *was* meant to be functional - in the sense of being legible from a distance and from across the street. But you raise an interesting point: that a building like this needs more than one type of sign - signs to be seen from nearby and ones visible from afar.