Concorde beats Tube map to become Britain's favourite design

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The Independent Online

It was always elitist and is now defunct. Yet the Concorde was last night named the winner of the Great British Design Quest - by a nose, of course.

In a closely fought battle with the London Underground map and the Supermarine Spitfire, the supersonic plane emerged victorious with Harry Beck's 1931 design for navigating the Tube coming second.

The contest, organised by BBC 2's The Culture Show and the Design Museum in London, saw nearly 212,000 votes cast in a process which began with 25 iconic designs chosen by experts, including the mini skirt, the Catseye, the E-type Jaguar and the Penguin paperback book.

And although the programme's makers admitted they had not predicted the result when the voting began, it delighted Concorde fans such as Tony Benn, the minister responsible for giving it the go-ahead, Barbara Harmer, the first female pilot, and Christopher Orlebar, who flew the plane 1,000 times.

Alan Whicker, the television presenter, said: "Concorde was the best passenger plane ever built. If you flew in it or even if you saw her flying overhead she just swept you up. I fell in love with this glorious aircraft that looked as though it was going a thousand miles an hour when it was standing still."



Plans for the Concorde began in 1956 when a committee of experts was convened to consider the possibility of a commercial civilian supersonic aircraft. In 1962, Britain and France signed a draft treaty on developing such a plane and a prototype was unveiled five years later.

The first supersonic flight took place on 1 October 1969, and commercial flights began in 1976. However, services were suspended after a fatal crash near Paris in 2000 and passengers failed to return when flights recommenced. Concorde's retirement was announced and the last British Airways Concorde flight took place on 24 October 2003.

Eddie Morgan, the executive producer of The Culture Show, said: "I think it's about glamour. Seeing Concorde was like spotting a very famous person outside a restaurant."

Top 10 designs

1. Concorde

2. London Underground map

3. Supermarine Spitfire aircraft

4. Mini

5. World Wide Web

6. Routemaster bus

7. Catseye

8. Tomb Raider album cover

9. Grand Theft Auto video games

10. K2 telephone kiosk cover

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