History of New Johnston

To make the Underground Group’s posters and signage more distinctive, Frank Pick commissioned calligrapher and typographer Edward Johnston (1872-1944) to design a clear new typeface. Edward Johnston created a sans serif font (using simple plain strokes) called ‘Underground’, now known ‘Johnston’. Johnston had modelled his magisterial and beautifully clear alphabet on the classical capital letters devised by the ancient Romans and perfected at the time Trajan’s Column was completed in AD 113. What he had done was to connect the ancient and the modern worlds, to produce an alphabet that was, in effect, timeless while speaking across the millennia- and lettering that was legible, as it soon proved, to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Read more about the history of font and the design heritage of London’s Underground by downloading our Labyrinth teaching packs