The First Crossrail Moquette Was Designed In The 1980s... And It's An Acquired Taste

The First Crossrail Moquette Was Designed In The 1980s... And It's An Acquired Taste
What the original Crossrail moquette could have looked like. It's an acquired taste

When Andrew Martin, author of Seats of London, asked Jonathan Sothcott what he thought of Crossrail Aero — the moquette pattern he'd designed in the late 1980s — there was a pause. Finally, Southcott answered: "I really liked the one I did for the Central line."

It's true that the Crossrail moquette's Crayola-like swirls of turquoise and hot pink are of their time. More something you'd expect to see Timmy Mallet dressed in, than upholstering the inside of a groundbreaking train service.

A Class 341 Networker for CrossRail. Assumed © Network SouthEast

Crossrail has been in the offing for longer than you might realise; it was first mooted in the notorious Abercrombie Plans of the 1940s. The new east-west line didn't come to pass then, but the 1974 London Rail Study had resurrected the idea, renaming it 'Crossrail', and in October 1990, it was given government go-ahead.

Enter Southcott's Aero. The moquette, created by British Furtex Fabrics, was mocked up with the intention of upholstering the new Crossrail class 341 trains. Unfortunately, the trains were never built: concerns about the cost of Crossrail were compounded by a recession, and that was that.

We may never know if Sothcott's shell suit-esque creation would have got the final go-ahead, had Crossrail been realised in the 90s.

The new Crossrail moquette

We know what its successor is, though.

Now Crossrail is back on the table — palpably, annoyingly close — there's a new moquette in town. Elizabeth Line is its official name, its colour palette intentionally weaving in a royal purple. The design is by Wallace Sewell, who now make all TfL's moquettes. The great irony is that Wallace Sewell were forced to come up with the design in four weeks, despite Crossrail being shunted back by years.

(Sothcott was right by the way: his design for the Central Line Check moquette was a classic, refined affair, and was rolled out on the stock in 1992.)

Seats of London, A Field Guide to London Transport Moquette Patterns by Andrew Martin, (Safe Haven Books), RRP £12.99. (buying via this link will help support our site with a small commission)

Also available from London Transport Museum

Last Updated 28 October 2019