This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways, BOAC and BEA. You can browse the full series of 100 stories in numerical order, by theme or by decade.
The “Speedbird” logo designed for Imperial Airways by Theyre Lee-Elliott in 1932 is considered one of the most enduring examples of modern graphic design.
Based on a stylised motif of a bird in flight it was retained by Imperial Airways’ successor BOAC.
In spite of many changes to BOAC’s identity and its fleet over decades, the Speedbird remained a consistent part of its aircraft liveries and visual identity.
It also featured on the first British Airways Negus livery. However, it was replaced by the Speedwing when BA introduced the Landor livery in 1984.
You can still see the Speedbird logo on the platform of Hatton Cross London Underground station. Of course the Speedbird name is still used as the Air Traffic Control callsign for BA.