Double Arrow: British Rail Corporate Identity from 1965–1994
October 22, 2016 10:17 PM   Subscribe

This is a website about the British Rail Corporate Identity from 1965–1994 which includes a wealth of digitised examples of British Rail design material collected over several years. I hope you find it useful and inspiring, whether you're a practitioner or historian of graphic design, a scale modeller or simply a connoisseur of corporate design at its aesthetically satisfying best.
posted by jack_mo (16 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've always loved the BR logo design. This is a great find! Many thanks!
posted by Thorzdad at 4:33 AM on October 23, 2016


Considering British Rail is long gone I was wondering why I keep seeing the double arrow symbol on the railways. Nation Rail, an organisation of passenger rail companies in the UK, still use variations of it. Mostly I see it on the tickets or on the enquiries app and website.
posted by antiwiggle at 5:00 AM on October 23, 2016


The double arrow ended up being appropriated by everyone from indie-rock bands (The Pre New, I think, used it as an album cover) to anti-privatisation campaigners and social-democracy nostalgists. For a while it looked like it might go the way the RAF roundel did when the Mods appropriated it.
posted by acb at 5:03 AM on October 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


My memories of British Rail from about the early 80s to 1994 was of excellent execution of their design identity and bloody awful execution of anything connected with actually running the trains...
posted by dowcrag at 5:07 AM on October 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Lovely. Unlike the ersatz 'Casey Jones' microwave burger brand that British Rail invented in the early 80s.
posted by Coda Tronca at 5:32 AM on October 23, 2016


Also appropriated by rail punks Eastfield.
posted by poseathon at 6:55 AM on October 23, 2016


The Rail Alphabet designed for the program by Margaret Calvert was revived by Henrik Kubel in 2009 and is really beautiful.
posted by How the runs scored at 7:33 AM on October 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I like great design... and trains. Thanks for this!
posted by Artful Codger at 8:23 AM on October 23, 2016


My interaction with the BR logo is that it's on the window latch on the door that I have to pull down to reach the outside handle every morning as I get off the train. I'm inordinately fond of the intercity 125s, but every time I go through that ridiculous door opening process, I can't help but think of all the people that died falling out of train doors before they added central locking and (pointlessly) removed the internal handles. And I can't help wondering if it was someone throwing people out of the trains. It's my anti-madelines moment every morning.

But yes, it's a classic of Calvert & Kinnier design, in concert with the rest of the studio. In many ways it's a core part of my national identity.
posted by ambrosen at 9:00 AM on October 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's a great logo. I always loved the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) logo when I visited as a kid, and it must have had inspiration from the British design that had been introduced only a few years before.
posted by borsboom at 10:52 AM on October 23, 2016


Ironically, you're more likely to spot the NS logo on a British train these days than the double arrow...
posted by doiheartwentyone at 12:43 PM on October 23, 2016


And although you won't see Casey Jones burgers in any British or overseas stations, you will see the railway exclusive food chains it was replaced with: Caffè Ritazza and the sandwich shop Upper Crust in lots of places, including Berlin Hauptbahnhof.
posted by ambrosen at 1:18 PM on October 23, 2016


I always thought that the BR logo owed more than a little to the Glasgow Suburban Electric logo from 1960.

Ooh, that font …but please get that person a new scanner, as there are glitches.
posted by scruss at 2:35 PM on October 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Rail Alphabet designed for the program by Margaret Calvert was revived by Henrik Kubel in 2009 and is really beautiful.

It is, but it's not £1,000 beautiful.
Also, I find it difficult to tell the difference between it and vanilla Helvetica. (I think the X-height is slightly higher in Rail Alphabet, but that's about it.)
posted by acb at 3:53 AM on October 24, 2016


It's a great logo. I always loved the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) logo when I visited as a kid, and it must have had inspiration from the British design that had been introduced only a few years before.

The stylised-two-rails motif in high-modernist-era railway logos is a recurring one. Other than BR and NS, Sydney's metropolitan railways had a similar logo, and there are a few other railways (South Africa? Israel?) which have logos along those lines.
posted by acb at 8:31 AM on October 24, 2016


The old Amtrak logo only pointed in one direction. This was probably appropriate, given that some services were so infrequent that trains passing each other in opposite directions was quite rare.
posted by grouse at 9:28 AM on October 24, 2016


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