I Spy… Signs of Old Age

Hasteful MammalDuring my investigative wander last week, when I went in search of the Kingsway Tramway Tunnel, I also encountered an old pre-Worboys road sign.  By which I mean that it predated the Worboys Committee, which redesigned the UK’s road signs in 1964 to make them clearer, more suited to greater traffic etc and (quietly) more in tune with the rest of Europe.

In Search of Signs

Searching the Easy Way

Afterwards, I also realised that I hadn’t seen another old sign I remember seeing in Aldwych not all that long ago.  So I went back to have another look and, just to make sure, I got a list off teh internets of these ancient relics of signdom, which are, by definition, at least six years older than I am.

Xenophobic Arseholery

I was not entirely unscathed by my brush with the internet, though.  Obviously, the sort of people from whom I could obtain a list are going to be a bit geeky — and they are — but they’re generally just motoring enthusiasts with an eye for detail rather than the terrifyingly obsessive.  However, there are some (thankfully only one or two) who appear to consider it a personal affront that ‘their’ signs have been replaced with ‘foreign’ ones and that the country has obviously been conquered by European Johnny Foreigners Up To No Good

One gets the distinct impression that the only reason these people wouldn’t vote for the BNP is that it’s too modern and inclusive and not a patch on the original British Union of Fascists, which had real values. 

Honestly, I thought I might combust.

Signs Absent from Aldwych

Anyway, armed with my list I headed back to Aldwych to confirm that the signs that I remembered have indeed been replaced with modern, Worboys-compliant signs sometime in the last two years.  Indeed, out of a good half dozen signs that were still in place in 2009, only two now remain. 

Given that these signs survived 45 years while all others around them were changed, I wonder what caused them to finally succumb?  Perhaps the councils are trying to get their road signs consistent for 2012 and the Olympics?

Pre-Worboys Signage

Anyway, for the sheer geeky curiosity of it, these are what I did find:

Pre-Worboys Direction Sign
This direction sign is in Theobalds Road at the junction with Gray’s Inn Road.  They used a blue background for local routes in urban areas and black for rural.  Another smaller sign nearby has gone so I imagine this one’s days are also numbered.
Pre-Worboys One Way Sign
This old ‘One Way’ sign has survived by not only being on a back street (Southampton Buildings) but it faces into a car park for the benefit of drivers exiting onto the road.  It has a modern sign on the other side of it for those already on the road.  

What’s really amazing here is that it’s kept the voided red ring finial that indicated a mandatory instruction (a solid red disc meant a proscriptive instruction and a voided red triangle was a warning — these are still echoed in the red borders of modern signs).

Generally, even if a pre-Worboys sign is still standing the finial has usually been lost.
Doing It Old Style

Also, as I was walking down Gray’s Inn Road, I saw this:

No Entry sign with text
This, and its companions, are obviously new signs — presumably to replace old, worn ones — but Gray’s Inn has rather charmingly opted for the pre-Worboys design with ‘No Entry’ written on the white stripe to stop people driving onto their grounds. 

As private property, the Inn of Court is not bound to be Worboys-compliant, unlike the council when erecting signs on the public highway. This ‘written on’ design  replaced the earliest ‘no entry’ road signs on which the words were on a separate plate underneath the red disc of prohibition.

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