Leaves on the lines, the wrong kind of snow, and soggy stale sandwiches never really helped British Rail become a brand that was truly loved by the nation. Yet, in 2011 the readers of Creative Review voted British Rail’s ‘double arrow’ as their sixth favourite logo.
The symbol, created by Gerry Barney at Design Research Unit, has endured beyond its origins and has become a shorthand for Britain’s national rail network. Maintaining a strong and unified identity across a country’s railway, ferry and hovercraft network demanded a groundbreaking and extensive piece of graphic design. This book will celebrate British Rail’s identity in its entirety – not only its distinctive symbol.
With full agreement from the Department of Transport – and with your support – these iconic manuals initially created in 1965 will be published as a new, high production book.
The original manuals spanned four volumes, all utilising a MULT-O 23-ring binder system. Issued in July 1965, binder one contained information on the core brand elements such as the symbol, logotype, lettering and colour palette. Binder two, issued in November 1966, contained guidance on printed publicity. In 1970, binders three and four were introduced containing guidance on architecture and signposting, rolling stock, lineside equipment, road vehicles, ships, liner trains, uniforms and stationery.
About the book
We are working with Nick Job, a recognised custodian of the British Rail Corporate Identity Manual. Nick has, over many years, been studying the manual in depth, and for this project he is assisting us to locate each page. This book will collect together all approximately 220 pages into a high specification, clothbound hardback volume.
- 247 x 310 mm
- Clothbound, foil-blocked hardback
- Approx. 300 pages
- 5 gatefold pages
- Stochastic litho print
Also in the book
- Foreword by Michael C Place, creative director and founder of Build
- Introduction by Tony Howard, former head of design at British Rail, now managing director of Transport Design Consultancy
- Essay from James Greenfield, creative director & founder of Koto
- Interview with Gerry Barney, designer of the British Rail double arrow symbol
About the project creatorI have a love for infrastructure systems, and railway networks in particular are a favourite of mine. No matter your age, or your ability to walk or drive, these vast systems of infrastructure help us everyday as we commute to work, come home, or travel the country with speed and ease. When this identity was introduced, the railways in Britain were nationalised – it was our network to use and enjoy—the name ‘British Rail’ will, for me, forever stand for that.
Call for additional pages
Due to the nature of the ringer binder system, we are still yet to locate a small handful of pages. We’ll be making every effort to complete the full set by tracking down manuals held by museums and private collectors. We’re currently offering a complimentary copy and a note of thanks in the book to anyone who can help us find the final few missing pages. As the project progresses we'll make a formal call for these elusive few pages.
In discussions with the printer, we discovered it is not going to be possible to create sewn book that includes the 25 gatefolds pages the original binders housed. This design problem prompted us to look again at how these larger pages could be presented within the book. To help keep the publication at an acceptable price and taking into account how it would handle as an object we settled on five gatefold pages. These gatefolds may also have to positioned consistently within the pagination to to ease the book block’s construction. The remaining 20 pages will be set over a double page spreads. This means the book’s integral structure will be far stronger and can be handled and enjoyed with ease.
Risks and challenges
From a production aspect, I feel that this project should comfortably hit the arrival deadline of early May 2016. Of course this is a complex project that involves many elements coming together, so there is always the potential for an element of the production to hold up the process. However, with 98% of the pages located and a trusted team of experienced professionals working with me, I expect the project to go smoothly.
I am well suited to run this project being a graphic designer with over eight years of experience. For me, aside from the inherent cultural importance of the book, this is about creating an exceptional piece of print at an affordable price.
For this project I am being assisted by Darren Wall who is a graphic designer with over 12 years of experience within the design industry, including the well-known publishing house Faber and Faber. He currently runs his own publishing house Read-Only Memory and has had a 100% success rate for his Kickstarter campaigns including: SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works, Sensible Software 1986–1999, The Bitmap Brothers: Universe and most recently, Mr Bingo’s Hate Mail: The Definitive Collection.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)