Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Behind the Scenes: Saying Yes To The Millionaire - Chp 7 part 2

Every good treasure hunt needs a map, doesn’t it? I think the clue involving the London Underground map was my favourite bit of the treasure hunt element of Saying Yes To The Millionaire. I had an idea early on that I would like to send them on a photo scavenger hunt on the London Underground system as it’s such a vital part of the city.

I remembered reading about the Henry Beck’s design for Tube map and how ground-breaking it had been. Before Beck’s map, the stations had always been depicted in their geographical locations. Take a look at this:

Confusing isn’t it! Henry Beck came up with the idea of showing the stations in relation to each other, ignoring the geographical distances and kept it simple by only using horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. The ironic thing was that Mr Beck, an engineering draughtsman by trade, was unemployed at the time he came up with his idea, after having been made redundant by London Underground. He was paid five guineas for his work and was often not credited for his idea, even though it was the basis of many modern transport maps.

Here’s a copy of Henry Beck’s original drawing that I printed out while I was writing the book. It is little more than a doodle, with a few sketchy lines representing the different Underground lines and a few dots to represent the stations. It wasn’t easy working out a trail of ten stations that would tax the treasure hunt contestants because, if you look closely, you’ll see there aren’t that many dots and they are on just one or two lines.

I wanted to map out the ten stops on the trail, even if I didn’t use most of them in the book. The first challenge was to work out which stations the blobs were. I got out my trusty pocket tube map and almost instantly got stuck. Some of the stations were obvious, but I couldn’t work out the rest. It wasn’t until I took a good look at the 19030s version of the map, which resembles Beck’s sketch much more closely, that I could identify the stations.

Noticing the differences between the original map and today’s map – changes in names, stations that had appeared or disappeared - gave me an idea for Fern and Josh's final destination for this day of the race, but more about that in the post about chapter 8…

1 comment:

Jan Jones said...

There are a whole set of his maps at the Museum of Transport in London (near Covent Garden). He went on refining and refining the maps for the rest of his life.

Loving this blog, btw, Fiona.