A rather worrying task yesterday – I’d been putting it off but in the end it had to be done. I washed my hands and removed the cellophane from a copy of the BR Corporate Design Manual reprint so I could catalogue it. Fortunately few railway books come with a white cover; this one is somewhat nerve-racking to handle. But it has a sumptuous feel to it and opening it up I began to realise what an outstanding production it is. As it will have to be re-cellophaned before it can be put back on display I’ve taken a few pictures of the inside to show how good it is.

First a bit of background. The changes to the BR house style which began in the mid-1960s and introduced the double arrow logo, the abbreviated name and the distinctive blue train livery have their origin in this remarkable manual which sets out in fine detail all aspects of design across all six regions of British Railways.

It was issued between 1965 and 1970 in four volumes, and continued to be updated. This was easy because the volumes were in the form of ring binders and the pages, or sheets, were not paper but light card. The first volume introduced the double arrow logo together with the lettering and colour palette. The following year Volume 2 was issued with guidance on printed publicity. In 1970 the remaining two volumes appeared detailing architecture, locomotives, rolling stock, ships, liner trains, uniforms and stationery. The final two sections (lineside equipment and road vehicles) never appeared.

We have only ever seen one set, and that had had the locomotive sheets removed. Nevertheless it did not stay on our shelves very long – even incomplete the set is very much sought-after.

The production of a reprint of these volumes has been hailed with delight by students of design as well as rail enthusiasts. Because of the nature of the sheets, which could be added, amended, or of course lost, means that it is likely that no set was ever entirely complete. However the publisher has rounded up what appears to be a complete set of all sheets issued up to 1980, supplemented by some later ones.

The new version is handsomely printed on high quality paper and bound in a white cloth binding to match the original plastic-covered ones. It was originally priced at £75, which seems a fair deal for so large and handsome production, but it has since been reduced to £45, which is an absolute snip.

Here are some of the contents.

Lettering black on white.

Airport symbols – a fold out page.








There are pages and pages of double arrows for every occasion.

As well as this avuncular driver there is a guard of unshakable demeanour, a efficient-looking ticket office clerk and two ladies : a courier wearing a chic short-skirted suit, and a waitress whose smart overall sports a Rail Blue check.

Trains? Of course. Here is an HST …                                   and a class 86 …



and a mark 1 carriage  …                                               and a container and lorry.

And masses of stuff about menus, time tables, signs and signs and more signs. Right down to this nit-picking instruction on how to lay out a letter.

Relief. I’ve given it back to the Guvnor to re-wrap.

You can order it here

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