Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Vintage Overstrand road sign becomes Norfolk’s latest Grade II listed building

British road signs c.1904

Vintage Overstrand road sign becomes Norfolk’s latest Grade II listed building

A quaint little story from Overstrand, North Norfolk now which reminds me of the fun that can be had keeping an eye out for old road signs and street furniture.

This particular sign looks to have fully deserved its preservation status as its 1904 date must make it one of the oldest in the country and it joins a further forty-nine such road signs around Britain that have obtained listed status.

Road signs that were designed prior to the 1957 Anderson Committee on traffic signage (which gave us the designs we see today) are getting rarer by the day, although some still remain dotted throughout the UK and hopefully like the one in this article will be preserved in future.  Many local authorities often already take care of any such signs in their area, as can be seen in the traditional "finger post" signs that still exist in rural areas.  I don't know about you, but I love seeing these old signposts when I'm in the countryside and the older-style signs from the '20s through to the '50s look positively delightful (although perhaps not easy to read at speed, hence the 1957 redesign).  Some of them look unfamiliar to us today - how many people would understand the "Flame of Knowledge" symbol used in the "School" sign? - but many of them remain largely recognisable, a testament to the original designs that were drawn up between 1904 and 1933.

source - Roads.org.uk
Until the Second World War motoring organisations like the AA and the RAC were also allowed to erect signs of their own design to complement the official ones.  They were mainly simple worded warnings with a triangular badge sign above, or circular when giving distances and place names.

It is wonderful to see a small yet important aspect of British motoring history recognised in this manner and I hope it leads to more rare signposts being saved by local councils and interested groups before they disappear altogether.  North Norfolk District Council are to be applauded for taking such a stance on its vintage street furniture and I think their suggestion of looking out for further examples of important historic road signs is an excellent one. I shall continue to keep my eye out for such rarities when travelling through East Anglia, and elsewhere.

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