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15-4162 British Rail Uniform style button

15-4162 British Rail Uniform style button

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No minimums - a collector's item
Material: metal
Size: 32L - 20mm
Availability: In stock.
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British Rail’s new identity after Beeching included the deployment of a brand new logo to represent it, the double arrow. It remains an extremely powerful image, born very much of the hard-edged, sharp-cornered style of the 1960s. It has yet to be surpassed by any UK rail industry logo for impact and recognisability, and even worldwide it has few competitors. It was plain, and apparently simple, a world away from its predecessors, the heraldry-inspired lions and wheels.

British Rail’s double arrow logo, by Gerry Barney of Design Research Unit. This version by Dream out loud (Extracted from tube map) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The double arrow logo was the work of Gerry Barney at Design Research Unit, who came up with it after various other symbols were tried out and rejected. Though apparently simple, in its details it is more complicated than it first seems. The proportions are very carefully thought through, as you’ll know if you’ve ever tried to sketch one and it’s not looked quite right. The diagonal arms at the top and bottom flare outward at the ends to counter an optical illusion that made them appear to narrow when drawn with parallel sides. Although Barney was careful to avoid dictating exactly what it represented, the top arrow points rightwards because trains drive on the left, and the double arrow can be read as railway tracks seen from above with the directions of travel superimposed. Cousins said, “BR’s symbol, designed by Design Research Unit, has arrows in it, if you care to find them there; but it has a wider integrity too. As well as motion, the symbol connotes reliability.” (Cousins, 1986: p18)