Thursday, 15 March 2012

Postage Stamps//Old style road signs

As i have been looking at road signs to base my stamps on i was looking at different variations between them all, so instead of looking at the new age road signs, i decided to take a look at old road signs, these to me have a better aesthetic to them and would work within the stamp better as the majority of them are rectangle.

What did the old-style signs look like?
Pre-1963 directional signs were black on white at all times, with direction arrows sticking out of the side or top of the white panel - leading to very odd sign shapes. In urban areas they frequently had a coloured backing panel, blue on main roads and yellow on others. Older versions were cast with the lettering standing out from the surface; later ones were produced like modern signs, with vinyl overlays on sheet metal.
Non-directional signs had a black on white panel with a pictogram and text describing the hazard or instruction. The top of the pole was surmounted with a cut-out shape signifying the type of sign - a hollow red triangle for warnings, a solid red disc for restrictions, etc.
These signs are frequently referred to as pre-Worboys signs, a term that encompasses all road signage prior to the Worboys report and the introduction of the modern road sign system in 1963.

What font did they use?
It was an all-capitals font, sans-serif and quite similar to a narrower version of the American FHWA fonts. No official name is known; some call it the "Llewellyn-Smith" font after the people in charge of setting up this original signing system.

Where can I see examples?
Surprisingly, these old signs - though officially phased out from 1963 - are still all over the place. Surefire places to spot them are the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Scottish borders, and interestingly central London. There are a few in every major city - with definite sightings in Bristol and Birmingham for example - and taking any little-used country backroad gives you a fair chance of seeing one. Directional signs are more common since they are quite similar to the new ones and can safely be left in place. The example above at question3.7.1 was taken in London's West End.
Why are they still around?
While they were originally programmed for complete removal by 1970, many are still standing, despite repeated demands from central government over the years that they are removed. Several local authorities apparently have a policy of maintaining them as much as is possible - North Yorkshire County Council for one - and very often the ones that are left are on roads of such little importance that it isn't worth replacing them. As for central London - well, there's so many signs there that it's easier for them to go unnoticed!

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