Registered Charity No. 1099648
A memorial to Edward Johnston at Farringdon station. Elizabeth Line was unveiled by Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman Network Rail, on 29th June 2019. The Edward Johnston Foundation has published a book 'London's Typeface: Edward Johnston's Underground Sans' to commemorate the event and this is Sir Peter's Introduction. The book is available for purchase here
It’s taken more than a hundred years for there to be a proper memorial for the Johnston typeface, renowned as the way in which London’s transport speaks to its users, and, indeed, for a long time now, the way that London speaks most easily to the world. Edward Johnston’s commission by Frank Pick to design a new alphabet for posters and publicity was a bold move to raise the profile of the London Underground at a time when the system was struggling financially and needed what today would be called ‘profile’. Johnston’s resultant work was, and is, a masterpiece, and, together with the roundel, gives instant visual recognition to London’s transport and indeed speaks of London whatever words are written in it. Taken together, Johnston and Pick gave a public authority the most visible and recognisable brand in the world. It’s contributed, I think, to the London Transport and now Transport for London organisations being proud of what they do, of how they look, and what they say; and to a sense of belonging that Londoners have and certainly those of us who work or have worked for the organisation are proud of, too. And good design comes naturally when everything you publish has a timeless elegance because of the typeface it’s written in.
So this memorial – sculpture – whatever it is, is wonderful. It will be a permanent reminder of the creativity of Edward Johnston, and the typeface he designed. I hope it brings to the widest possible audience the importance of fitness for purpose and elegance for public things, which both Johnston and Pick wanted, and which Transport for London and its predecessors have sought to fulfil.
My own role in the story of Johnston’s typeface has been minor, but, I hope, effective. Having restored London’s buses to their proper colour – red – after I became in charge of them in 2001, I made sure that the numbers and destinations on them have continued to be legibly written in Johnston’s typeface; and, in preparation for the 100th anniversary in 2016, I asked Jon Hunter, TfL’s Design Manager, to create ‘Johnston 100’, which restores some lovely original features, gives an @ for digital use, and replaces the ‘1’ and ‘4’ of the 1980s rework. Those of you who are really observant might notice those contentious characters never got on the front of buses!
I was sad to leave TfL in 2015, although after nearly ten years as Commissioner it was time to hand over; leading any organisation that size is tough, and Mike Brown does it in harder circumstances than I had to, and does a great job. But I miss it still, and one of the things I miss the most is being able to write my messages in this beautiful typeface. So to be associated again with Johnston is a huge pleasure; and even better is that from now on this display will delight Londoners and remind them of the enduring work of Edward Johnston and the mark he has left on this world city, and the transport system which makes it thrive.
Sir Peter Hendy CBE
The annual Pen to Printer seminar is back after a break for our involvement with the London Transport Museum's 'Johnston Journeys' project celebrating the centenary of Edward Johnston's famous bull's eye roundel and Underground Sans typeface for London Transport. This year's event is taking a different format in that it will be a one-day session on Saturday 20th May 2017 with the option of attendance at at lecture on the Friday evening 19th May. Also there is a new venue which is Stoneywish Nature Reserve in Ditchling. The full programme is still in preparation but as usual it will bring together distinguished speakers and delegates from many lettering and associated disciplines to discuss in a convivial atmosphere issues of importance in today's rapidly-changing world of communications.
Venue: Stoneywish Nature Reserve, Spatham Lane, Ditchling BN6 8XH Click here for directions
Friday 19th May
from 5.00 Display of recent acquisitions from the EJF archive and exhibition of photographs from the Michael Alford Archive of Ditchling artists and craftspeople.
6.00 - 7.00 Gerald Fleuss
Edward Johnston and his Calligraphic Legacy.
Saturday 20th May
10.00 Welcome to Ditchling: introduction by Chairman of the Seminar Philip Moore
10.30 Tom Perkins
12.00 Seb Lester
Peace, Hellfire and Outer Space
1.00 - 2.30 Lunch break
2.30 Lettering Demonstrations
Leading craftsmen display their work and demonstrate calligraphy, glass engraving and lettering
4.00 Discussion Panel
Delegate fee: £85 Students £75
NB There is limited space at Stoneywish so please book early to avoid disappointment.
Pen to Printer - A Day in Ditchling 2017