Old Style Roundels 1: The Rare Ones (part 1)

As promised, here is a start of a short series that looks at old style roundels that are dotted around on the London Underground network. To start off, we will look at the roundels that are rare and have been left on the network for historical reasons. And for many reasons, it is nice to see they still exist. This is quite a large category, so this shall be part 1 of this series. We will look at the rest in part 2. So have a read and find out where to spot these on your travels!

Barbican (Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines)

Where to find: on westbound platform


And so we start off with Barbican station. You will find a small number of surviving roundels of this kind. Notice the letter B is stretched a little on these signs? The roundel is likely to have dated back at the time the station was renamed to Barbican back in 1968. The station had gone through a number of renames: firstly as Aldersgate Street in 1865, then Aldersgate in 1910, then Aldersgate & Barbican in 1924, before taking the present name in 1968. At one time, National Rail used to have platforms serving Barbican as part of the City Widened Lines from King’s Cross to Moorgate. The line was electrified in 1982 when the the line was renamed the Moorgate line. It eventually became part of Thameslink, but when Farringdon station on the Thameslink line had its platforms extended, the Moorgate branch including Barbican closed in 2009.

Burnt Oak (Northern line)

Where to find: on island platform in the shelter section


Not only does Burnt Oak have one old style roundel, but two! And they may look the same style, but one of them even has a suffix! The suffix reads ‘For Watling’. Watling is named after an estate. It was one of twelve London County Council cottage estates built between the first and second world wars provided for Homes fit for Heroes. Very few ‘tombstone’ style roundels remain on the network and this is one of them. Another can be found in North Ealing station on the Piccadilly line.

Covent Garden (Piccadilly line)

Where to find: on westbound platform

Look carefully towards the front end of the westbound platform and you will find an original ‘bullseye’ style roundel that has survived. The sign would have been around time of the station opening in 1907. In small writing, you can clearly see this sign was manufactured in Wolverhampton. Covent Garden station was destined to be one of many to be earmarked for closure to speed up Tube journeys on the Piccadilly line. It was proposed in 1929 for its closure but it did not happen. This, along with Arsenal (was Gillespie road), Gloucester Road, Mornington Crescent, Hyde Park Corner and Regent’s Park were on the closure list too but are still with us today. But others were not so lucky, Brompton Road (closed 1934), Down Street (closed 1934) and York Road (closed 1932) did end up being shut on the Piccadilly line and you can still see remains of these closed stations on a passing train.

Ealing Broadway (Central & District lines)

Where to find: in the shelter section of the District line platforms

Ealing Broadway also has the same kind of roundels as Covent Garden except there are just a few more about. You can actually walk towards the back of the platform to get a great view of the tracks going eastwards providing step free access between the District line platforms, the Central line and National Rail but not for exiting the station at present. But when Crossrail, ahem, the Elizabeth Line opens, Ealing Broadway station will be finally rebuilt and step free access will be provided on all platforms when the new service arrives in 2018. Even more news, Transport for London will take over control of Ealing Broadway station fully from late 2017.

Edgware (Northern line)

Where to find: island platform in the shelter section

An original sign, probably around the time of the Northern line opening in 1924. The sign is unique in having the letter W cross over which is not found in the normal Johnston typeface. There also seems to be a lot of abandoned land around the station giving it an impression that the station is incomplete. That is true because there were once plans of an extension to Bushey Heath back in 1935. The Mill Hill East branch would have extended to meet Edgware and continued northwards with stations at Brockley Hill, Elstree South and Bushey Heath. Unfortunately, with the outbreak of the Second World War, all progress in the northern extension was halted. And with the introduction of the Metropolitan Green Belt legislation, the extension was over the area of the green belt and so no residential expansion could serve these areas abandoning the extension altogether. By 1950, the plans were officially dropped.

Fulham Broadway (District line)

Where to find: southern end of both platforms


Lastly, for part 1, is Fulham Broadway. A few of these old style roundels survive and are part of what was the old station entrance, but this wasn’t the original station entrance, it actually served the second station entrance that opened in 1905 – which survives today and is Grade II listed – but is closed off and now serves as a farmers market, although the original footbridge survives to this day. The current entrance opened in 2003 when a new entrance was opened within Fulham Broadway shopping centre. The station first opened as Walham Green in 1880 and was renamed to the present name in 1952. One might think that the ‘For Stamford Bridge Stadium’ might have been a later addition, but the second entrance,opened in 1905, was built to serve the newly built Stamford Bridge Stadium (which is now home to Chelsea F.C.) around the time, so we suspect the signs are around that time (except for perhaps when the station was renamed Fulham Broadway), but how did they get the Way Out signs to point in the correct direction to the new 2003 entrance? We suspect the signs on the southern end of platforms got swapped over!

And there you go for part 1. Come back soon for more old style roundels in part 2 of this exciting series!

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