diamond geezer

 Wednesday, August 03, 2016



Back in June TfL's most famous font was revamped to celebrate its centenary.
After 100 years of helping Londoners navigate their city, the iconic Johnston typeface has been digitally updated, complete with hastag (#) and at @ symbols.
So far the new font's appeared on posters and online, but only this week has it started to appear in the real world, specifically here at Holland Park on the Central line.



The station reopened on Sunday after a seven-month project to replace the lifts, and there's been a bit of a spruce-up on the platforms. The roundels and the 1950s-style frieze have been sympathetically replaced, in what is the very first public appearance for the Johnston100 font. But I'm not sure I can tell the difference.



This isn't entirely surprising. Monotype's adjustments to the previous Johnston font are only minor, for example tweaking the spaces inside the 'g', fractionally depressing the centre of the 'a' and broadening the 'h'. Changes to the upper case letters are even more negligible, but upper case is all we have to work with here at Holland Park.



The word HOLLAND doesn't appear in the name of any other station, but PARK is rather more common, so I went in search of other stations called SOMETHING PARK to see if any small differences became clear.

Here's REGENT'S PARK, a station which was given a similar lift-related revamp in 2007.



These letters are thicker, but that's not really what we're looking for here, because Johnston is available in a variety of weights. Instead consider the shape of the curved voids within the 'P' and the 'R', the height of the bar of the 'A', and the angles at the centre of the 'K'. Anything, anyone?

I travelled next to GREEN PARK where I checked the roundels on the Jubilee and Victoria lines, both of late 20th century vintage. Again it's the shape of the letters that's important, not the thickness (and sorry, it's quite hard to take these photos perfectly straight-on).



And finally to ST JAMES'S PARK, whose roundels are all considerably older. Most are identical (that's the first example here), but one is famously a bit more bespoke (that's the second).



So yes, obviously the second one looks a little different to Holland Park's centenary font. But the rest?

I'm not seeing the difference, in these letters at least, but maybe that's the point. Johnston100 is only meant to be a slight readjustment of New Johnston in line with the original designer's typography. And you've got to be impressed by an organisation which cares so much about the heritage upgrade of its lettering that almost none of its customers will notice.


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