London's Only Dual Language Roundel

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 19 months ago

Last Updated 13 December 2022

London's Only Dual Language Roundel
elizabeth line southall roundel with punjabi script as well an english version
The new Elizabeth line roundels at Southall state the station's name in English and Gurmukhi script. Image: Crossrail

Stations from Berkshire to Essex have been given the Elizabeth line makeover, with fresh signage featuring that regal hue of Pantone 266c that's about to be seared into our brains.

But there's something unique about the signage at Southall station in west London; not only is the station name branded in English across the entrance and on roundels throughout the station, it's also written in the Punjabi Gurmukhi script (aka Sikh script) — ਸਾਊਥਹਾਲ.

the new glass fronted entrance at southall stattion
Note the TfL Rail sign; that'll become an Elizabeth line one. Image: Crossrail

This is, of course, in recognition of Southall's large Punjabi population. An estimated 35,000 Punjabis live in the area, although at its peak, that figure was double. This fascinating Guardian article tells how the first Punjabis arrived in Southall in the early 1950s, spearheading the move of many millions of Asians to Britain, as well as earning Southall the nickname Chota Punjab (Little Punjab).

Southall is also home to Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, the largest Sikh temple in Europe, which Londonist visited a few years back.

The nod to Southall's heritage and current population is a nice touch, but nothing new; the former signage incorporated Gurmukhi script:

the old southall sign with its name in English and Sikh script
Image: Júlio Reis in Creative Commons

That sign, though, didn't feature a roundel. And it's roundels that we get excited about.

Londonist reader Achyut Chaudhary explores more of Southall and its Elizabeth line station in this video:

Crossrail says that Southall is one of the few stations in England with bilingual signage — and we're pretty sure it has London's only dual language roundel. There is, however, Bengali signage at Whitechapel station, plus this at St Pancras International:

a sign reading 'bievenue a london underground'
Merci beaucoup. Image: public domain