Once-upon-a-time, back in the days when Ted Heath ruled the land, British Rail submitted (and was granted) a patent for a flying saucer:
Now the job of being Tottenham Court Road jester falls to Transport for London.
We should count TfL’s greatest hits, especially those under the present part-time Mayor of London:
- 808 Boris Boggler buses, which parboil the occupants, are unreliable and — arguably — unsafe, don’t quite work on hybrid power train, and — but naturally — are “iconic”. Lest we forget, the cost was originally budgeted at a quarter of a million per bus, but has ballooned to over £350,000. As for the assured export and sell-on deals, say no more …
- the Danglewire across the Thames, which goes from nowhere to nowhere, but has a scenic view of the scrapyards below: this is billed (with everything BoJo there has to be a bill) as an “airline”;
- the Boris bike scheme, which costs Londoners a small fortune, and provides late-night thrills-and-spills for drunken stock-jobbers — this was going to be a “no-cost” operation, which now costs £1,400 per year, per bike;
- the pretentious and pointless, but projected Garden Bridge;
- Borisport-on-mudflat, the Grand Project for a mega-airport in the Thames, which cost £200 million;
- a rack-rented fares policy;
- the worst labour disputes on record (14 million Google “hits”), largely because the Mayor can’t be arsed to talk to his employees;
- a shut-down of ticket booths, at a moment when buses went cash-free …
What’s to be done?
Nothing else for it! Send for the PR-team! And, lo!
We are searching for London’s most iconic transport designs and designers, and will be asking you to vote for your favourite from 3 August.
These images are submissions from TfL staff, but if you think we have missed anything, please let us know your Design Icon by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the history, pre-Boris, of London Transport there has to be a wealth of good stuff in such a list. It doesn’t take much presience to expect the “winner” would be one of:
- Harry Beck’s map (which has gone round the world);
- the Johnson type-face;
- (just to annoy Boris) the original Routemaster.
Towards the end of that “suggested” list of LT “icons”, we find Wilfred the Bunny:
Wilfred was, it seems, intended — or, at least, suggested for the bonnets of LT’s “Green Line” country buses. ‘Elf’n’Safety would today ban such an ornament, but we speak of an age when form followed function, but also could be fun. Consider, in the same vein, the coins of the Irish Free State:
To think, Ireland gave up such elegant simplicity for the €.
I’m assuming that the bunny had to be “Wilfred” from the Daily Mirror comic strip, of Pip (the dog and father figure), Squeak (a penguin and mother) and the child (Wilfred, the long-eared rabbit), who all lived at the home of “Uncle Dick”, waited on by Angeline, the house-maid, on — significantly for the Green Line — the London periphery.
“Pip, Squeak and Wilfred” had another significance for the men of that post-WW1 era: they were the nicknames of the campaign medals dished out with demobilisation:
So, I’m voting for Wilfred.