A Black History Tube Map

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 31 months ago

Last Updated 12 October 2021

A Black History Tube Map
Click to enlarge

A new tube map celebrating Black British history has been released by TfL, in collaboration with Black Cultural Archives in Brixton.

Taking the form of the traditional tube map, the station names have been replaced with notable Black figures, including Joe Clough, London Transport's first Black motorbus driver; Victorian circus owner Pablo Fanque, immortalised in the Beatles song Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!; Leyton Orient and England footballer Laurie Cunningham; and Claudia Jones, who co-founded the Notting Hill Carnival.

'Ipswich Man' is the name given to a 13th century skeleton with direct African ancestry, discovered in Suffolk

In all, over 270 figures appear on the map — from the 'Ipswich Man', a name given to a 13th century skeleton of a man with direct African ancestry, to textile designer Althea McNish, who passed away in 2020.

Rather than necessarily having figures relate to a their particular tube station, the lines are renamed to link them by common themes: Firsts and Trailblazers; Georgians; Sports; Arts; LGBTQ+; Physicians; Performers; Literary World and Community Organisers. These aren't just people who changed London, but the whole of Britain and beyond.

Some institutions also appear on the map, with the Africa Centre taking the spot of its geographical location near Southwark tube station, and Black Cultural Archives doing the same with Brixton.

London institutions, such as the Bernie Grant Centre, also appear on the map

The map is released to mark both Black History Month (October), and the 40th anniversary of the Black Cultural Archives.

Arike Oke, Managing Director, Black Cultural Archives said: "London's Black history is deeply embedded in its streets and neighbourhoods. We hope that the map will be an invitation to find out more and to explore."

Marcia Williams, Transport for London’s Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Talent, said: "Black people have played a significant role in all aspects of British life for thousands of years. It is fantastic to see the true scale and breadth of this contribution commemorated on TfL's iconic Tube map."

Indeed, it's a brilliant way to explore Britain's Black history.

The map is a wonderful way to explore black history in London, Britain and beyond

As you'd expect, the Northern line extension features (Nine Elms is represented by Janet Adegoke, the first Black African woman to become a mayor of a London borough (Hammersmith & Fulham)), while Battersea Power Station is given to John Archer, who became the first Black mayor of London, back in 1913). His spot is particularly fitting, given he was mayor of Battersea.

Legendary singer Snakehips Johnson appears on the 'Sports' line - presumably because of his athletic dance moves

The map will be available to buy from the Black Cultural Archives shop.