On the eastern side of Sydney's CBD, the underground railway stations of Museum and St James are still almost 90 years later, the prettiest stations in the entire of the Sydney Trains network. Sydney Terminal with its imposing clock tower and cathedral of steel does scream grandeur from every brick and every piece of cut sandstone but it still is not as much of a joy to stand in as the two jewels of the east.
Museum and St James are designed to look like stations of the Edwardian period of the London Underground. Museum reminds me of the Circle Line platforms of Baker St and I must confess that I don't know what St James is based on. The point is though, that they were both designed to be aesthetically pleasing, and they are.
This brings me to Circular Quay, Wynyard and Town Hall. They were built within the same time period as Museum and St James but subsequent refits have either meant that their little details have long since given way to the stern pen of accountants. These three all lost their little details that they had when they opened and Wynyard in particular looks the saddest of all; its steel supports on platforms 3 & 4 being covered over in nothing but blue enamel.
This is why I was surprised to see something return to Town Hall recently; something which I think should never have ever gone away; something which was sorely needed - the roundels.
The last time I wrote about this was back in August of 2012 - maybe someone was reading this (see Horse 1345):
Presumably the roundels of the London Underground were copyrighted in the 1920s. They are so instantly recognisable that even in different colours, they can still convey their intended design language and quite deliberately so. The Underground's roundels are found at every station, on time tables and other paraphernalia and have now extended to buses, ferries, the l
docklands Light Railway as well as the Overground.
Sydney on the other hand has never really had any overarching corporate design language and it suffers from the fact that every time there is a change of management, it either gets a minor change of signage or an attempt to make sweeping changes to everything which then fails or falls short; Milsons Point is testament to this - its T1 branding appears nowhere else on the network.
The current Town Hall refit is interesting. It has acquired some roundels (which I hope get repeated throughout the whole station) but it has also acquired several orange station signs; of which that style only also appears in Burwood of all places. The grey tile work which appeared before the roundels did, reminds me of the inside of a toilet block. Down on platform 4 which used to be in the same 1970's style as the rest of the Eastern Suburbs Railway, has also been made to wear these grey tiles and orange signs. The only concession left that it was ever part of the ESR, are they roof housings for the fluorescent lights.
My question is who is responsible for the refit and why did they think that it was a good idea to put up a few roundels (which look pretty) but then tease us with a grey and orange arrangement, that even President Douglas McDreary of the I Love Dishwater Society thinks is dull? Why can't we have nice things? Why do you have to taunt us so, by showing us that we could have nice things but we're not going to be given any?
People from around the world visit the London Underground because it is the London Underground. No one, visits Sydney Trains because it is Sydney Trains.
The roundels are lovely. Please sir, I want some more. MORE?!