The logo that almost replaced the Roundel

Recognise this? It’s the logo of the London Passenger Transport Board. And in 1933 it almost replaced one of the most famous logos of all time, the London Transport Roundel

Recognise this? It’s the logo of the London Passenger Transport Board. And in 1933 it almost replaced one of the most famous logos of all time, the London Transport Roundel

We have been busy gathering material for our March issue, which will be themed around the 150th birthday of the London Underground. Last Friday I was fortunate enough to have a sneak preview of the London Transport Museum’s upcoming exhibition, Poster Art 150, featuring 150 of the greatest posters designed for the tube. The first poster visitors will see on entering the show is this one, designed in 1933 by Christopher Greaves.



In the bottom right corner it carries, not the familiar Roundel, but the logo of the then-newly-formed London Passenger Transport Board. As the LTM explains, the LPTB “was created as a single giant public authority to run all bus, tram and underground railway services across the capital. The new Board wanted to introduce a unifying logo to represent all its newly acquired services. A winged symbol incorporating the new initials was designed by C W Bacon.”

Here it is in use on an explanatory booklet (thanks to Mike Ashworth of TFL for the images, more here)


And here in colour form on another leaflet


Thankfully good sense in, as with so much else on the tube, the shape of Frank Pick prevailed. After just a few months, Pick, who was now chief executive of the organisation, suggested a return to the infinitely superior Roundel and the LPTB adopted the far less cumbersome trading name of London Transport, for which a new version of the roundel was commissioned.

There will be lots more tube-related design stories in our March issue, out in the last week of February. Poster Art 150 opens at the London Transport Museum on Februray 15.


CR in Print
The February issue of CR magazine features a major interview with graphic designer Ken Garland. Plus, we delve into the Heineken advertising archive, profile digital art and generative design studio Field, talk to APFEL and Linder about their collaboration on a major exhibition in Paris for the punk artist, and debate the merits of stock images versus commissioned photography. Plus, a major new book on women in graphic design, the University of California logo row and what it means for design, Paul Belford on a classic Chivas Regal ad and Jeremy Leslie on the latest trends in app design for magazines and more. Buy your copy here.

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  • Jonny

    I prefer the LPTB one, looks very regal and makes a lot more sense. The wings are also very cool. The underground logo always reminds of something i expect to direct me to a toilet… funny that.

  • Geoff

    I think ‘Jonny’ needs new specs.

  • Tom

    Ha ha yes, what a funny logo this would have been, but the London Transport ’roundel’ simply isn’t the perfectly designed mark we are told it is. It’s basically just very old and well known and anything else (at this point) wouldn’t look right.

  • James


    I have to disagree with you. I’d say a simple, bold, instantly recognisable mark that has easily adaptable content that everyone from an 8yr old to an 80yr old can understand is pretty much a perfectly designed mark. You’ve somewhat contradicted yourself by saying that it’s well known – surely that’s the idea and would have been part of the original brief!? And to say anything else wouldn’t look right, you’re implying that it’s succeeded in it’s role …

  • The second picture, the billboard with suprematist art touch is so fabulous and well composed! Great work!

  • It’s interesting how this looks very dated, yet the Roundel still looks modern. It goes to show what a timeless design it is.

  • Its absolutely true. Great logo – scalable, works with or without colour, simple enough and most importantly memorable!