This is why London Tube stations have unique tiling

Did I hear someone say HISTORY?


If you spend a lot of time on the Tube, it's a pleasure going past the older, more decorative stations around the city centre.

Take Baker Street, for example.

Baker Street

Nice tiling, right? Adds a bit of character.

The same goes for King's Cross.

King's Cross
Source: jpellgen

Or Brixton.

Source: Tom Page

Well, it turns out that such decorations weren't originally just for show.

As the world's oldest underground railway - opening back in 1863 - things were a touch different back then.

For one, the Tube's earliest riders were far more likely to be illiterate.

According to Mental Floss, the designs were originally subtle and abstract, such as Covent Garden's unique yellow tiling patterns.

Covent Garden station
Source: Chris Jones

It'd be hard to mistake it for another stop, right?

And as literacy improved over time, creating these tiling arrangements became more of a game, and so they became more pictogram-like.

Take Warren Street - it has a maze design.

Warren Street
Source: John Cooper

If you look up the definition of 'warren' it's "a densely populated or labyrinthine building or district". Makes sense.

And let's go back to Brixton again:

Source: Tom Page

Geddit? Bricks-ton. A ton of bricks.

Very interesting stuff.

Feature image: Tom Page