Beck's drawing contained many errors: lines missing, stations which were closed, and lines which had not seen a passenger train for many years. These would obviously have been corrected, and sometimes this would have enabled the design to be improved. In creating this map, I have taken advantage of opportunities to tidy up the design, as would have taken place 70 years ago, but the basic configuration is nonetheless Henry Beck's.
Beck's original showed the Underground with thick lines and bold station names, whereas the mainline railways were shown as thinner lines, undifferentiated in the background. His coverage was rather selective, including Aylesbury in the northwest, but omitting, for example, Sutton, Upminster, Croydon and Dartford. Would the mainline railway companies have been content with being pushed into the background with their major destinations absent? The LMS, LNER, and GWR all had close links with the Underground. The LNER ran some of the world's most intensive steam commuter services. The vast Southern Electric was one of the world's great electrified networks. I decided to show the mainline railways with equal emphasis, differentiating them using their corporate colours. Major destinations have been added in east and south London. We can only guess at how Beck would have configured these, but I have tried to ensure that they blend in.
Which railways to include is also difficult to resolve. Beck included the London Transport New Works Programme in full, but the Second World War delayed much of this, and some plans were abandoned forever. Many mainline railways and stations were closed permanently during the Second World War. Omitting these would have taken the map too far from Beck's original and removed much of its interest. The outcome above is really a fantasy map, based on aspirations which were dashed by the Second World War. It shows the London Transport New Works Programme in full, along with its implications for the mainline railways. Many mainline stations and lines were closed permanently almost as soon as the Second World War commenced. Removing the least remunerative stations from the network was probably another aspiration of the railway companies.
Inevitably, realising any historic prototype map is speculative, and there can never be a definitive implementation. What I hope to have achieved is a design in keeping with the scale and spirit of Beckís undertaking, and which captures the atmosphere of the times, when Britainís railways still gave the impression of pride and confidence.
The original drawing can be seen in 'Mr Beck's Underground Map' by Ken Garland (1994, Capital Transport). My own book, Underground Maps After Beck, has an earlier attempt at realising this design, closer to Beck's original attempt, and therefore further from the outcome most likely to be published had the concept been adopted.
My final version of this poster is based upon extensive research into timetables and maps from the late 1930s. By this time, many of the more 'esoteric' services had been pared right back, running only sporadically if at all. These have been omitted. [In a similar vein, by the late 1930s Underground maps had long ceased to indicate, for example, that through services occasionally ran from Watford to Rickmansworth.] Avoiding loops have also not been shown. For example, from a passenger's point of view, a train bypassing Lewisham is no different from a train not stopping at North Dulwich. The former involves a different route, the latter merely involves the driver continuing to drive the train. Also, note that station names of the time were often surprisingly inconsistent, with even publicity issued by the owning company, such as timetables and maps, often not agreeing precisely, especially for long station names.