09 January 2013

Pocket maps from the early 1900s

Today The National Archives celebrates the 150th anniversary of the first underground railway in the world, examining the history of the London Underground pocket map from our collection of maps held in a Guard Book.

The Guard Book (RAIL 1034/42) contains many bus and Underground maps, including some of the first pocket tube maps from the early 1900s (see the image on the right). As well as containing variations on the diagrammatic tube map layout we see today, the collection also contains themed maps for special events such as the Festival of Britain, documenting a journey through some of the key moments in the 20th century. 

The evolution of the pocket map

The collection contains some colourfully designed pocket maps from the 1930s promoting sightseeing and excursions in London, which demonstrated the impact the London Underground had on social mobility.

When the Second World War began, pocket maps returned to a simple diagrammatic layout. However, at the end of the war a special pocket map was designed promoting the Victory Parade in London, with the route of the parade featured as part of the London Underground map.

In the late 1940s and in the 1950s, specially designed pocket maps were published to promote and celebrate major events such as the 1948 London Olympics, the Festival of Britain and The Queen's Coronation and to show where events were taking place.      

Click on the image above to view some of these maps, or read about other maps we hold of the London Underground.

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