Poster of the Week – Speed Underground

Speed Underground, Alan Rogers, 1930

Speed, strength and reliability. Over its 150 year history the Underground’s effective use of publicity posters has created and reinforced a strong visual and corporate identity.  As TfL continues with its vigorous modernisation of the Tube, the message conveyed in Alan Rogers’ ‘Speed Underground’ remains as relevant as ever.

This Modernist poster is a rather dramatic departure from the romanticised landscapes that often featured in Rogers’ designs, displaying bold geometric shapes and lettering. The archer’s quiver and lightning bolt arrow convey speed and accuracy, the stylised roundel and use of colour emphasising powerful organisational branding.

The roundel logo, featuring the bar and circle, first appeared on Underground station platforms in 1908. It has become a unifying symbol of London’s public transport system and an icon of the Capital. Although its use was strictly controlled, poster designers such as Rogers were often granted a degree of artistic license and have playfully incorporated the logo to produce memorable and eye-catching designs.

The archer motif is today echoed in the Art Deco style archer sculpture, by Aumonier, which sits atop East Finchley station on the Northern line. The line is currently undergoing a huge upgrade that will see new state-of-the-art signaling boost capacity by the equivalent of 11,000 additional passengers every hour. See the Tube Upgrade Plan for more information.

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

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