Wednesday 16 December 2020

A Logo For London (2)

 Seasonal Mini-Blog 

fbb has been reviewing his latest book purchase, a gander through the art and design of the London Transport roundel.
Most people, even if they live in North Uist, will recognise the Transport for London standard bus stop.

It seems to have existed for ever, even if most folk fail to understand the difference between a  BUS STOP  and a ...

... Request Stop. Do buses stop at a "Bus Stop" even if there is no one waiting or no if one has pinged the bell to get off? Even some tourist guides doubt this, firstly advising visitors to signal clearly by extending your arm to a horizontal position at a Request Stop. Sounds good to fbb.

It then goes on recommend what to do at a non-request stop, apparently known as a "compulsory" stop. Guess what? It advises visitors to signal clearly by extending your arm to a horizontal position at a Compulsory Stop.

Be that as it may, fbb thought that the standard London stop sign (called a "flag") was part of the designs created by Frank Pick to unify transport in London post 1933.

But it wasn't. 

This is Hans Schleger ...

... and 'twas he who designed the iconic "flag", commissioned by Pick.

Schleger arrived in England in 1932 where his contacts among Crawford’s modernist designers, notably Edward McKnight Kauffer RDI and Ashley Havinden RDI, helped establish him at the centre of London’s avant-garde design community. Schleger did much to spread the visual language of modernism in Britain, one example is the famous London Transport bus-stop sign commissioned by Frank Pick in 1935. As a result of this success Schleger decided to stay in Britain and he became a naturalized citizen in 1939.

During the Second World War he designed propaganda posters, including ‘Grow Your Own’ for the Dig for Victory campaign.   

In essence his designs were threefold ...
... for buses, coaches (i.e. Green Line) and trams. If, say, buses and trams stopped at the same place then one flag for each "mode" would be fixed to the pole or shelter.
But the bogie of request stop-itis led to some thoroughly confusing combinations, as above introduced in 1949.

And in the "Country" districts, buses were green but the flag remained with a "bus" standard red circle.
And now that Transport for London does not run coach services (or Green Line for that matter) the official coach stop flag is now orange ...
... and for the trams in Croydon, the ring is now green.
The Croydon tram does not have conventional stop flags, however, so the logo appears on stations in a similar way to the Undergound.
One day, when his brain is working, fbb will also examine the vexed question of what a "Fare Stage" is and whether it is (or should be) shown on bus stop flags.
A Sheffield resident once rang up Sheffield Transport Department to complain vociferously that his local stop was both a Request Stop AND a Fare Stage. "It cannot be both," the caller raged, "How can a request stop possibly be a fare stage?". He abandoned his complaint fully dissatisfied with the Departments answer.

The topic of Poster Art in the Logo for London book will be explored briefly tomorrow.


From The Bible Christmas Story?
Yes, really, Dad did!
As all Biblical Scholars will know, a creature similar to the Grinch, but with the Hebrew name of  Eric, is part of the prophecy in the Book of Hezekiah, notably Chapter 3 verses 3 and 4a. Sadly this prophecy (and the Grinch) has nothing to do with  CHRIST  mas  . For Kriss-Muss, anything goes.

More Revelations From Mercers Row
The new stops on Northampton's Mercers Row,. moved to relieve pressure on The Drapery and allow better social distancing are finished (nearly) and in use.

Only they aren't!

Here is a snippet from Stagecoach's twit information also carried on their Facebook pages. It is offered with no explanation whatsoever.
You may be unfamiliar with Alfred Austen ...
... oft referred to as Britain's worst Poet Laureate. He was writing an ode entitled "On the Illness Of The Prince of Wales" in 1910.

O'er the wires the electric message came,
"He is no better; he is much the same."

There is some doubt that Austen actually wrote this part. That classic compendium "The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse" includes a dozen quotations from Austen but attributes this particular couplet to a "university poet unknown." It also provides a metrically more accurate first line, "Across the wires the gloomy message came," plus "not" for "no" in the second line. 

Never say that fbb doesn't bring a bit of culture from time to time.

Personal Note
As you read this, the fbbs will be travelling to the Isle of Wight OR enjoying a posh nosh with a couple of their Island chums OR settling into the Premier Inn at Sandown Merrie Gardens. There are no gardens and nothing is particularly merrie.

Tomorrow they will be taking fbb's sister's funeral. A total attendance of seven souls is expected, so a tough call for the old man and his Mrs. 

Premier Inn WiFi is appallingly unreliable, probably so that frustrated guests will pay for the upgraded service. fbb is too mean to be so conned. But even the Mini-Blog service is at risk.

 Next Mini blog : Thursday 17th December 


 fbb's Alphabetical Advent Calendar 


It's what  CHRIST  mas  is all about, we are often told; Peace On Earth and Goodwill to All Men.

To quote from any Pantomime you like, "Oh, No, it isn't!"
The angel said to the shepherds, “Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David's town your Savior was born - Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!

It is impossible to speculate what the shepherds actually saw and heard. We are in the realm of an infinite God from outside our space and time stepping in to make a difference. No God equals no angels, no Christmas, no shepherds, no anything.

But allow only the possibility of "God" and we can "get" the message. Bluntly, if we want "peace on earth and goodwill to all men", we have to do it God's Way. And God's Way began with a baby in a feeding trough, the real  CHRIST  mas  . 


  1. Does anywhere apart from London have this rather ridiculous difference between "Compulsory" and "Request" stops?

    The signs that used to puzzle me as a child were ones that said "Headstop". Are there any "Tailstops" today?

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  3. The differentiation between request stops and compulsory stops in London was abandoned 12 years ago. To quote TfL:

    "Following a stakeholder consultation conducted in 2007, we have implemented a change to bus stopping practices, removing the distinction between compulsory and request stops. It was found that most people using bus services in London do not distinguish between a request stop and a compulsory stop. The vast majority of passengers hail the bus if they wish to board and ring the bell to alight. We are gradually standardising stops so that they all use the compulsory flag (a red roundel on a white background). All stops in central London are now of this same design.

    The change effectively means that the onus is on the driver to stop if someone wishes to get on or off, and drivers should only pass a stop if they are certain that no-one wishes to board or alight. "

  4. A "Headstop" was so marked where buses should stop with the front of the bus at the stop . . . relevent for a stop where rear-entrance buses were used.
    A "Tailstop" was used in the same way, where front-entrance buses should stop past the stop itself.
    Either variant could be used where traffic conditions required it, usually where access should be maintained at all times (say outside a Fire Station).
    Headstops were quite often used, but Tailstops were very rare indeed!!
    Concerning the flags themselves . . . may I refer you to:

    Everything you wanted to know (but may have been afraid to ask!).

    1. I was with Armchair when they took over the 260 and recall there was a Tail Stop in Park Royal, heading southbound, although I can't now be more precise on its location. I remember that its existence was stressed to drivers during training, which, looking back now, suggests it was unusual (but as a rural Tilling lad I assumed it was just one of those "London things" without realising its rarity).

  5. Compulsory stops go back to the Board of Trade's insistence that trams stopped at locations where not to do so could be dangerous- e.g. at the top of steep hills. Birmingham City Transport had some compulsory stops to the end of its existence (red text on the circular stop flags rather than the blue used elsewhere), although I don't think drivers always stuck to the rules latterly. In Sheffield, and I suspect elsewhere, stops ceased to be shown as Fare Stages soon after deregulation, as not all operators used the same stage points and the information became unreliable; the term is superfluous in London nowadays in an era of flat fares.

  6. There was a further variation on London's Compulsory and Request Bus Stop theme. By long-established practice Night Buses treated all stops (including Compulsory) as Request and only stopped if hailed or the bell was rung. The Night Bus network was quite small until expansion started in 1984, many passengers were regulars and presumably knew the etiquette.

  7. Effectively all stops are compulsory if you are boarding and request if you are alighting. A driver must stop if there is someone at the stop, regardless of whether they are hailing the bus or not. A passenger must ring the bell if they wish to alight.

  8. At least one of the stops at Canary Wharf is a tailstop - it is on a "circular road", and there isn't enough space to put the flag at the "door-end", but were buses to stop where the flag it, they would foul a junction.