Station symbols a secret delight

Next time you visit a main station in a major UK city, look out for a rather beautifully-designed graphic symbol representing your location. You might have to search quite hard though

Symbol for Birmingham New Street

Next time you visit a main station in a major UK city, look out for a rather beautifully-designed graphic symbol representing your location. You might have to search quite hard though

In 1999, design studio Lloyd Northover was commissioned by Railtrack to create new wayfaring systems for its stations. As well as a new signage system, the studio also created a set of circular graphic badges to represent 14 major stations, each referencing local architecture or the station name.


Symbol for Edinburgh Waverley referencing Edinburgh Castle


According to the Beauty of Transport blog, these signs have fallen out of use somewhat – they no longer feature on printed material, for example, and their use on signage is haphazard. Changes of ownership may mean that some disappear altogether. Among transport fans they remain, however, well thought-of – so much so that the Beauty of Transport is predicting that they may well become the next highly collectible pieces of UK railway memorabilia.


Manchester Piccadilly based on Victorian viaducts


CR spoke to Lloyd Northover co-founder John Lloyd about the project.

What was the original intention for the symbols?

As part of a long-term branding and signing programme by Lloyd Northover, each of Railtrack’s 14 designated major stations was conceived as a destination in its own right. The aim was to enhance and communicate the distinct personality of each of the major stations following their renovation and upgrading with new facilities.

How was it decided which stations should have one?
There were 14 major stations initially; they were all significant destinations and termini, and were usually at the end (or beginning) of the lines.

How does the colour of each symbol relate to the station?
To some extent, the colours are arbitrary. They were chosen to work well with the dark blue used for the wayfinding system developed by Lloyd Northover for use across the entire Railtrack network, and to be sympathetic with the railway architecture and local surroundings.


Glasgow Central references Mackintosh


Which of the symbols do you think worked best and why?
I am particularly fond of the Paddington symbol (shown above) because, when you are in that station, you can immediately see the visual connection between the symbol and the station environment.



Gatwick recalls flight


London Euston recalls the Euston arch


What do you think of the way in which they have been applied?
The symbols were conceived as a key component of the Railtrack identification, wayfinding, and information system and were carefully applied within that context. The sign system developed by Lloyd Northover included a new set of pictograms and a newly designed typeface for use on fixed and digital signs; the designers named this typeface Brunel. At each major station, the relevant symbol appears on these signs and its colour also appears on the signs as accents. Overall, I was pretty pleased with the way the symbols were used.


Liverpool Street


London Bridge references the view across to St Paul’s


Were there plans to do more with them which were never realised?
No. The main objective was to use the symbols in the station environments and that worked well. Limited use was also made of them in promotional contexts.



Waterloo’s lion used to stand outside the station before being moved to City Hall


Charing Cross


King’s Cross


London Victoria




See more of John Lloyd’s work at


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