29 June 2024

London street signs – additions to postal zones

My last post mentioned a patch added to a sign along The Broadway in Woodford. This got me thinking about the many additions and changes to street name signage across London. This became necessary as an area has became so populated that the postal district had to be sub-divided, such as Holloway N, becoming Holloway N7, etc. 

As London expanded, districts needed to be defined to prevent confusion between, for instance, Brewer Street in Soho and a road by the same name in another part of the metropolis, and so simple points of the compass were added. More often than not a complete new batch of signs was created to replace/cover the old ones. But in some places, a little patch or tile was added adjacent to the existing name plate, such as these examples in Soho where a small white tile bearing a red W for West has been added next  to the brown and white 1870's tiles that show the street name:

Soho's single letter square tiles are perhaps copies of the similar, earlier, more elegant ones in the Hampstead area where there are also some later additions:

Single letter tiles can also be found in nearby Loveridge Road NW6. Near there you'll also find some lovely blue and white vitreous enamel signs, such as this one in Oxford Road which, like many others in that vicinity, has a little metal plate to the side: 

But surely a more effective and visually pleasing amendment would have been to make small blue enamel [N.W.6.] signs in a condensed typeface to competed cover the N.W. within the sign itself? These could have then been spot welded to the original sign. Hey, but what do I know?!

This extraneous patch device can also be found in W8, as shown below in Cromwell Grove where the little metal tiles that display the full postcode of that era have been better designed completes with fancy corners and affixed centred under the street sign. But where is West W6?!

In Strode Road NW10, it looks like the local council was on a money and time saving exercise as the basic little hand-painted metal add-ons here look like they were created cheaply and attached in a hurry. Incidentally, the punctuation on these old signs often intrigues me. Full points, and sometimes semi-colons too, randomly applied, like a game of Spot The Difference. For instance what happened to the full point after W on the Cromwell Grove sign? But I digress. 

Finally, staying in NW10, in the well-to-do Chamberlayne Road area there are elegant cast metal N.W. signs that also have little 10s attached to the side or below them, but here we can see that the contractor remembered to use a spirit level:

I do like these little quirky add-ons. When councils created complete new street name plates they were mostly fixed directly over the previous one. There are, however, instances where new signs were placed adjacent to the old ones which can be a bit confusing. I will compile a collection of some of my favourite oddities in a future post. 

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Thanks, Jane