Wednesday 9 January 2008

Why are old signs better?

I've been noticing just how much better, more attractive, more stylish the old features of the local area are - it's really curious - I saw an old picture of the first Ian Drury and the Blockheads first album cover (apparently taken outside Woolworths on the Kilburn High Road) and even that makes the shop look better than it does now!

So I caught these two images - one is a small label road sign above a road name in Hampstead and the other is a old street frontage from Kilburn Lane, Brent.

The first (first pic) is a stret sign pre 1964 (i.e. before the creation of Camden) when Hampstead was it's own Borough.
The lettering is old fashioned, perhaps it is out of date, but to me there is something that is inherently attractive about it and that adds to a locality. If I recollect correctly it's Rosecroft Avenue (Frognal and Fitzjohn's ward).
The sense of detail and the individual lettering gives residents a real sense of pride, that their Borough matters and that their Council cares. It's good that Camden still repairs and restores these old signs, but perhaps more of a shame that where new signs go in they are the standard metal formulaic signage.

The second is taken at the other end of the constituency on Kilburn Lane (where it meets Chamberlayne Road) in Queen's Park ward. It's an old shop front - lying empty and there is this old mosaic from when the shop was Craven Laundry.

The more I find things like this I can't help but think there should be some kind of historic audit of an area that seeks to save, enhance, promote these sorts of features.
Perhaps this is one of things that residents associations could be mobilised for? I spent much of tonight in a residents association and one of the discussions was about the formal role - maybe there should be a remit of environmental responsibility - identifying features, assets and historic hangovers.

Oh, and just to make my point even better the shop front (albeit closed) has the old mosaic protected by a set of old railings (granted, they are prob post WWII) but they do add character and charm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A few years ago some idiot in Camden Council decided to have all the street name signs removed and replaced with much smaller ones which are very hard to read at a distance. The old signs were perfectly adequate and easy to read. Who was this fool? More of these eejits ought to be named and shamed.
A few months ago, Brent council changed every sign in the borough. The new signs cost £100 each There must be hundreds of thousands of street signs. Work it out. It cost millions. Why? There was absolutely nothing wrong with the old signs. Backhanders, perhaps? That is a huge contract.
Same with all the road humps that have been constructed across London at more than £20,000 a hump!
Huge amounts of money involved.
Who hands out these contracts? Who approves them. Councillor Thane has gone.