Railway font launched at Margaret Calvert exhibition

Designer Margaret Calvert, whose work can be seen on Britain’s transport network every day, is the subject of a display at the Design Museum in London from 21 October 2020 to 10 January 2021.

The Margaret Calvert exhibition at the Design Museum, London. Note Margaret’s handbag.

Working with Jock Kinneir, she designed the Transport font used on British road signs, as well as the triangular signs familiar to all that warn of cows, deer and even schoolchildren on the road.

The two of them also designed Rail Alphabet, used on station signs all over the network. New Transport is now the font of the UK government website.

Huw Lewis, customer services director of Nexus, talks about Tyne and Wear Metro’s connection with Margaret Calvert.

Her eponymous font ‘Calvert’ was developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro system in 1980.

Now, working this time with Henrik Kubel, she has developed Rail Alphabet 2, the typeface that Network Rail will use in design publications and eventually all of its managed stations.

Spot the difference – Rail Alphabet, as used by British Rail, on the left, the new Rail Alphabet 2 on the right.

Visitors to the ‘Women At Work’ exhibition can follow the design story behind the railways, from the 1960s to the launch of Rail Alphabet 2, as well as learn more about wayfinding as a design field and how new systems are designed to create a safer and more inclusive travel environment.

Sir Peter Hendy, Network Rail.

Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy said: “The original rail alphabet, designed by Margaret, was an enduring design icon of the 1960s and heralded the rebirth of the modern British railway system.

“She is a true pioneer of design and I’m delighted we’ve been able to work with her and Henrik Kubel on Rail Alphabet 2.

“There’s a muddle of different fonts used on railway signage which are hard to read and confusing for passengers, so we were keen to work on a clean and consistent design to make journeys and stations better.”

Margaret Calvert in 2018 with her design ‘Women at Work’.

Graphic designer Margaret Calvert commented: “It’s been wonderful for me to have been given a chance to re-visit the original Rail Alphabet, designed by me in the Sixties, as a starting point for the design of Rail Alphabet 2, for Network Rail, which will be used for both wayfinding, and as a text face for specific publications.”

Margaret’s new Rail Alphabet 2 typeface will be used for the first time at London Paddington station.

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