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Radical new idea, 1742

April 11th, 2007 (02:58 pm)

From The Craftsman, 9 October 1742:

"Within these few Days the Names of the several Streets, &c. that lead to Cheapside, have been affix'd at the Corners of them, painted in Black Letters on Tin Plates, for the Convenience of Strangers; and we hear the same is to be done throughout the City of London."


Posted by: The Two Trees (arda_unmarred)
Posted at: April 11th, 2007 04:06 pm (UTC)

[A pet peeve] I wish someone would come up with this radical new idea again! I (a stranger :) find it really annoying that streets in England are very poorly marked, because even if there's a sign at the beginning of the street, if you don't mark it again at every intersection it's pretty useless. I was told that in London they were taken down during WWII in case the Germans invaded, and never put back up again. But that doesn't account for other towns...

Posted by: bunn (bunn)
Posted at: April 11th, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)

It seems to be considered that road signs are only required by foreigners and tourists, and are therefore of importance only to those who are not in a hurry.

In fact, if tourists get lost, there is a school of thought that says that is a good thing, as it keeps them hanging about the place longer, and spreads their money to distant map-retailers, taxis and teashops, who might otherwise miss out. For this reason, road signs in tourist areas will often not point you directly to your destination, and it is always worth checking the map.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 11th, 2007 05:45 pm (UTC)

Most of central London's signs are postwar (though there are still some pre-war and older signs around if you look for them, particularly in Bloomsbury and Holborn) and I find that most areas are well-signed at intersections compared to other cities.

Posted by: Adilo Creamon (the_marquis)
Posted at: April 11th, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)

Well more than just London was under threat and after the war many councils had more urgent needs to spend money and manpower on.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 11th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)

Though in recent years there has been a rapid turnover in signs as the London boroughs have changed their logos - Camden seems to have been a particular culprit after it changed its logo from the orange one to the green one.

I like spotting signs from the old London boroughs, before their replacement under the Greater London Act in 1963. There's still a 'Borough of Fulham' sign near my sister's, and there still a few 'Borough of Holborn' and 'Borough of St Pancras' signs on older buildings at the south end of Camden, and I've even seen a few 'Borough of Paddington' or 'Borough of St Marylebone' in north Westminster, though they are less common.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: April 11th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)

That's always been one of the things I've found most exciting about studying history: finding out about the little changes that never get formally taught or written about at length, but which had such a huge effect down to the present that it's hard to think of a time before them.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 11th, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)

I remember coming across a report from the mid-eighteenth century on how the authorities in the City of London had decided, after I think seeing how the West End was being fed by various private water companies, to survey their own water pipes, which were in a poor state of repair having in many cases not been replaced since the reign of Henry VII.

Posted by: Adilo Creamon (the_marquis)
Posted at: April 11th, 2007 09:38 pm (UTC)

Oooh I've never thought before about how old, or not, street/road namesigns might be. Mind you I happily pointed out the 30s style road signage (give way being a metal triangle inside a circle with an information plate below it about road conditions) at the Black Country Museum, that we were at today, to Na'Lon.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 11th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)

Ah, a 'Pre-Worboys' sign, as the aficionados call them.