Did you know… Harry Beck

Harry Beck, designer of the London Tube Map

Harry beck

It’s one of the most iconic pieces of graphic illustration – but did you know that Harry Beck, designer of the London Tube map, once taught at what is now the London College of Communications in Elephant and Castle?

In 1933, Henry Charles Beck, better known as ‘Harry’, came up with the innovative design, which has since been viewed by millions upon millions of Londoners and tourists on all manner of journeys across the capital.

Beck worked as an electrical draughtsman on the Underground service when he created the map – considered radical at the time as it didn’t represent distances and wasn’t geographically accurate.

And it wasn’t an immediate hit – the London Underground publicity department initially refused to accept it. But, a trial involving the public proved decisive, and the map was accepted.  

London Tube Map board game
Harry Beck, designer of the London Tube Map

In later life, Beck taught at the London College of Printing and Graphic Arts, which became the London College of Communication in Elephant and Castle today.

One of his colleagues, Leslie McCombie, recalls conversations with Harry. “In 1953, I taught with Harry Beck. His main conversation was always his Underground map, how it came about, and the struggle to get it accepted.”   
The London College of Communication is a key landmark in Elephant and Castle, and continues to educate students in the area of design and communications.