National Archives 2003-03-06

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Weather was very sunny with puffy cumulus clouds, meaning more unblocked sunshine than not, but the sunshine very clearly distinguished from the cloud cover—a partly sunny rather than bright day.

At PRO wound up ordering MT 113/46, 47, 48 and the BT file.

MT 113/47

This deals mainly with services signing. Issues covered include how to sign back roads to service areas so they would not be used to leave the motorway illegally. Folder full of drawings at the back has signing plans, including signing layouts for Watford Gap and Newport Pagnell service areas, and a very large sign design sheet for the proposed PRIVATE/NO/ADMITTANCE/EXCEPT AUTHORISED VEHICLES sign which was designed to address the illegal access contingency. It’s pattern-accurate and definitely P, but would be expensive to P’copy.

Other specific contents include:

• Miscellaneous correspondence between AW Lovett, at the Ministry, and Lampitt, owner of the Blue Boar enterprise which was apparently developing the Watford Gap service area about the proposed “Services 1m and 26m” signing.

• Minutes from the 22nd through the 16th Anderson committee meetings, mainly addressing the service sign issue but also design of fork signs and whether Birmingham was appropriate as a “control city” for the M1 given that the M1 did not actually go to Birmingham and traffic to Birmingham would be routed along the M45 (this was presumably the working designation for what eventually became the M6 from Rugby), with Doncaster to replace Birmingham as the signposted forward destination once the London-Yorkshire motorway was finished north of the split for Birmingham. At this stage the committee was already thinking in terms of a specialized fork sign for the M1/M45 junction, which was designed to tell people that although Birmingham had been signed to that point as the straight-ahead (right-lane) destination, it was now necessary to reach it by EXITING the M1. This involved omission of a “Get in lane” legend on (IIRC) the 1/2m ADS. Chronological coverage is 25/4/1960 to 15/6/1959. Also, Committee Documents nos. 32, 19. Main basis for selecting these docs for the file appears to be that they had discussion of external signposting for services.

• Conceptual drawings for services signs, including a version of the “next two services” sign with “mile” spelled out, and the mock-up of the original “Services” EDS which was released to the newspapers for publication around 14 August 1960, when first services opened on the M1. (Newport Pagnell, IIRC.) (Actual opening date was 14 August, but press cuttings gave advance notice, and started at 11 August 1960.) Also, conceptual signs for internal signing within the service area. Competition between two main concepts—stub arms for each service provided, or one stub arm for all services. Latter concept appears on same drawing as next two services with “mile” spelled out, and “Next services 10 miles.”

Going through this file in detail should be saved for a later time. However, issues discussed include the following:

• Internal vs external signposting for service areas; whose responsibility it is, who should design the signs, who should fund.

• Extent to which services signing can be viewed as an advertisement for services. (Some service area concessionaires felt hard done by because service areas close to route termini got the business that might otherwise have continued on the motorway to another service area, and did not want to have “Next 2 services” signs provided because this would encourage motorists to keep going and not stop. Ministry pointed out that the sign existed to advise motorists of fuel deserts.) Also, some concessionaires wanted to mount services signs on bridges. Min felt that this would be advertising and would be shot down by the Royal Comm on Fine Arts.

• Specific designs of the signs.

• Keeping motorists from using the back ways on/off the motorway. Works unit and “No admittance” signing introduced to address these contingencies, without introducing “hard closures” which would have impeded emergency vehicle access.

Side issue: the “butterfly sign.” What was this? Obviously OH-mounted. Chmn wanted it to have a point going to the leaving slip road, but was talked out of this because it would make the sign bigger and would result in the point pointing vaguely to the surrounding countryside. Hmm—sounds Californian-influenced. But no diagrams in the file, shoot.

BT 31/32680/205362

This file contains documents of incorporation for London & South Coast Motorways Ltd., the company founded to build a London-to-Brighton and other motorways. It is in an archive box with other, long-defunct companies, including one having to do with Javanese rubber.

Documents are as follows:

• Statement of nominal capital—stamp duty of £250 (chargeable under Stamp Act 1891) had been paid on this. Stamp duty then calculated as £1 per every £100 or fraction thereof. Nominal capitalization of the company was £25,000, with 25000 shares of £1 each. In fact only 1718 shares were subscribed.

• Memorandum and Articles of Association (bound). Two stamps, indicating payment of £10 for company registration, and stamp duty of 10 s. (not sure what this for). It is useful to quote directly from the Memorandum of Association.

1. The name of the Company is “London & South Coast Motorways, Limited.” 2. The Registered Office of the Company will be situate in England. 3. The objects for which the Company is established are: a. To promote and obtain the necessary powers for the construction of Motor Roads affording access from London and the London District to Brighton and other places on the South Coast of England and such other motor roads in the United Kingdom as may be deemed desirable or necessary. b. To make application to Parliament for a Private Bill or Bills containing authority for the construction, maintenance, and working of the said Motor Roads or one or any of them and to obtain the said statutory powers either by Special Act or by Provisional Order or by Order under the authority of any General Act of Parliament or by one or either or all of such ways as may be deemed desirable and necessary. c. To carry on the business of Motor Road Owners and in connection therwith to establish such depots for the manufacture, repair or sale of motor vehicles and accessories as may be deemed desirable and to grant licenses and concessions to such other person persons Company or Companies for the aforesaid objects on or adjacent to the said Road or Roads as may be thought desirable or necessary. d. To establish depots at or in the vicinity of the said Road or Roads for the supply of oils grease petrol benzol and other motor spirit as may be found requisite and necessary for the assistance and development of the traffic on the said Road or Roads. e. To enter into arrangements for the establishment of dry and wet Canteens, Rest Houses, and Garages, and to grant concessions to Contractors or others for the establishment maintenance and working of such conveniences on such terms as may be thought fit. f. To establish or arrange for the establishment of electrical charging Depots and Depots for the supply of Stores, Spare Parts, Equipment, and other necessaries required by Vehicles propelled by electric, steam, or other motive power. g. To impose and collect such rates tolls and charges as by the Special Act Provisional Order or other statutory Authority or sanction may be authorized and desirable and within the limits of the statutory Charges thus authorised to alter modify or abate the said Charges or some of them from time to time as may be found commercially desirable and necessary. h. To acquire and exploit all inventions patents patent rights and processes that may be available in and about the construction maintenance and working of the said Motor Road or Roads or one or all of them. i. To enter into partnership or into any arrangement for sharing profits, union of interests, joint adventure, reciprocal concessions or co-operation with any person or Company carrying on or engaged in or about to carry on or engage in any business of transaction which the Company is authorised to carry on or engage in or any business or transaction capable of being conducted so as directly or indirectly to benefit this Company and to take or otherwise acquire and hold shares or stock in or securities of and to subsidize or otherwise assist in such Company and to sell hold or issue with or without guarantee or deal with such shares stocks or securities. j. To purchase or otherwise acquire and undertake all or any part of the business property and liabilities of any other Company the objects of which shall be altogether or in part similar to those of this Company. k. To amalgamate with or to take or otherwise acquire and hold shares in any other Company having objects altogether or in part similar to those of this Company or carrying on any business capable of being conducted so as to directly or indirectly benefit this Company. l. To promote any other Company for the purpose of acquiring all or any of the property and liability of this Company and to take or otherwise acquire and hold shares in any such Company and to guarantee the payment of any debentures or other securities issued by any such Company. m. To invest the moneys of the Company in any securities the Company may determine. n. To make accept endorse and execute all kinds of negotiable instruments and to borrow or raise money by the issue of bonds debentures Bills of Exchange Promissory Notes guarantees or other obligations or securities of the Company or by Mortgage or Charge of all or any part of the property of the Company. o. To distribute any of the property of the Company among its members in shares or specie. p. To raise money for all or any of the purposes of the Company upon Mortgage or Charge on any property of the Company or any uncalled Capital of the Company or upon Debentures Bonds Bills Notes or other securities of the Company or without security. q. To sell lease or dispose of the Undertaking of the Company or any part thereof upon such terms and for such price or other consideration and whether in specie or in shares of another Company statutory or otherwise or partly in one and partly in the other method and generally for such price or other consideration of anykind as the Company in General Meeting may think fit. r. To provide for the acquisition of land acquired for all or any of the purposes of the Company and in connection with and as part of the purchase thereof to make arrangements with the owners for the development of such land and sharing with the owners of land any increment in land values arising or agreed to arise from the construction maintenance and working of the proposed Motor Road or Roads. s. To issue any shares in the Company as fully or partly paid up and to pay brokerage commissions or procuration fees to any person or company who shall procure any shares in the Company to be subscribed for or underwritten or perform any services for the Company or otherwise as may be deemed expedient. t. To indemnify all persons who shall incur any personal alibaility for or on behalf of or for the benefit of the Company at the request of the Board. u. To carry on all or any of the aforesaid businesses either jointly or separately so that no one or more objects and businesses shall be deemed fundamental to the constitution of the Company or having priority or pre-eminence over the other or others of them. 4. The liability of the members is limited. 5. The share capital of the company is £25,000 divided into 25,000 shares of £1 each, and the shares forming the Capital of the Company (original or increased) may be divided into different classes and may have such guarantee preferences or privileges as between themselves as may be authorized consistently with the regulations for the time being of the Company.

• Petition to incorporate, signed by Ernest John Woodhams and Lawrence Wharton Williams, who agree to take one share each. Date stamp: 16/4/1925.

• Certificate of Incorporation. Signed by the Registrar on 18/4/1925; receipt acknowledged by LW Williams, the Secy, on 20/4/1925.

• Notice of the Situation of Registered Office. It’s 211-212 Capel House, New Broad St, London EC2. Dated 9/4/1925.

• Notice of Change in the Situation of Registered Office. New address 30 Gt St Helens, London EC3. Dated 11/2/1926. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the same as the address of Ingledew, Sons & Brown, who prepped the previous Situation form and who apparently are a firm of solicitors employing LW Williams, the Secy.

• Particulars respecting Directors form. The Directors are David Mackenzie Turner (12 Trafalgar Sq Chelsea SW1) and Willoughby Henry Carey (75 Ruskin Walk Dulwich SE24). Dated 11/2/1926.

• Form E, to indicate share distribution to Companies House. It indicates 1718 shares have been subscribed, out of the 25,000. We will not attempt full reproduction of the list. Salient features: largest shareholding is Cecil Edward Fox-Male, a retired army major living in Surrey, at 700 shares. Other shareholdings are in amounts of 250 (Woodhams), 200, 100, 50, and 15. The directors and secy each own just 1 share. George Pearce Blizard is a shareholder at 50 shares. Ingledew, the solicitor who hosted the company for part of its existence, owned 100 shares. Uh-oh—need to correct notes above—these are apparently what are called “called” shares; L Williams certifies on this form “that the Company has not, since the date of the Incorporation of the Company issued any invitation to the public to subscribe for any shares or debentures of the Company.”

• Copy of Register of Directors or Managers, dated 27/6/1927. Fox-Male has been added as a Director. He is identified as a Motor Salesman.

• Annual Return, 12/3/1930. Fox-Male no longer identified as a director. Shareholdings unchanged.

• Notice of Situation of Registered Office or any change Therein. 15/9/1930. Address is now 78-79 Leadenhall St, London EC3.

• Notice of dissolution. Reads in pertinent part:

This Company was dissolved under Section 295(5) of the Companies Act 1929, by notice in the London Gazette dated 3 Feb. 1933.

This is the entirety of the file.

MT 113/46

This is the uppercase v lowercase file—returning to the controversy in an attempt to make some chronological sense out of it.

The top part of the file represents a précis of the controversy, prepared in February of 1961. It runs to some 32 separate enumerated items, a few of which (e.g., 10, 11) appear to be missing. It includes, e.g., a letter from CH Wykes dated 15/4/1959 (this numbered 13) stating the line the Ministry is to take at a debate sponsored for 6/5/1959 by the magazine Design between Kinneir and Carrington, the lowercase proponents, and Kindersley and Brooke-Crutchley, the uppercase proponents, on the other hand. The Ministry is above all not to look as if its mind is closed, but is to participate in the debate to remind the parties that the Minister was looking to the Anderson committee and the RRL and that the answer would be research- and aesthetics-led, to choose the best choice in terms both of aesthetics and economy. Item 29 is a very nice summary of the pros and cons, drafted by a Mr. Cobbe on 23/2/1961. Reproduced below in full.

You will wish to see Min 28 also Docs 93 and 94 before the file is returned to Mr. Usborne. (File reference: RTC 51/2/03.)

The RRL work may be divided into 2 parts. In the first they have compared signs having different letter forms, both upper and lower case, the lettering on all signs being so arranged that it substantially filled the areas of the signs ie margins and interlinear spacings were reduced to a minimum. The tests showed that for a given area of sign the legibility distances varied by not more than 3%. Putting this the other way round, the results showed that for a given legibility distance, the areas required varied by less than 10%. This difference is sinsufficient to be of practical importance since, for various reasons, it is necessary to standardize on a range of letter sizes—for example 8@, 10@, 12@ etc., and those increments of size correspond to differences in area of some 40% between letter sizes. Thus a change in letter form giving a 10% improvement would be insufficient to enable smaller letter sizes to be used.

The second part of the RRL work was to compare examples of signs produced by Mr. Kindersley (with capital lettering) and Mr. Kinneir (with lower case lettering). The signs produced by Mr. Kinneir had wider margins and interlinear spacings than those of Mr. Kindersley and, as a result, a larger area sign was needed to obtain the same legibility distance. This, however is not a comparison of like with like, since the selection of marginal spaces and interlinear spacings is, if above the minimum, a question of personal taste on aesthetic grounds. There is no reason to think that if, on aesthetic grounds, these margins and spacings are increased above the minimum, then the amount of increase would be substantially different for upper and for lower case lettering. In any case, for many signs this question of margins and interlinear spacings is only an academic point, since the spacings are governed not by the minimum necessary for legibility, but by the road plan, or by the need to separate names so that there is no risk of them being grouped together—see for example the direction signs in the 1957 Reglns whose separation between names in different panels is generally considerably above the minimum.

The RRL work is not related to the area of, for example, a Motorway sign as a whole, so much as with the areas inside the sign occupied by lettering (together with minimum margins and interlinear spacings). The sign as a whole is made up of lettering; of margins and spacings round the lettering; and the layout of the sign as a whole, including the road plan. The RRL work shows that there is little to be gained in efficiency by contemplating any change in lettering. A change—that is a reduction—in margins and interlinear spacings would in some cases produce economies, possibly at the expense of aeshetic appearance, but as has been mentioned, the scope for change in this field is limited by the need to fit the lettering into the general design of the sign, and to obtain separation of names on direction signs to increase clarity. If now we look at the layout of the sign as a whole, we find scope on the direction signs for much greater economies by a change of layout—by going over to “stack-type” signs rather than signs including a road plan—than are possible by a change of letter form, or of margins and interlinear spacings. The Anderson Committee recommended a stack-type sign for the junction M1/M10 viz. [drawing of two-panel stack with horizontally centered legend block, LA Barnet/Hatfield/M10 in top panel and Watford/London/M1 RA in bottom panel]. The area of this sign would have to be increased by about 30% in order to provide the same information on the standard layout recommended by the Anderson Committee for normal junctions viz. [drawing of standard fork sign, M1 etc the straight-ahead destinations, M10 etc. the left-hand destinations]. If the stack sign were slightly redesigned to eliminate two large wasted areas of white viz. [redesigned stack sign with legend blocks no longer centered vertically] then the reduction in area achieved would mean such a sign having to be increased in area by about 50% in order to come up to the standard layout. A further small reduction in area could be obtained by using the normal Kinneir alphabet for route nos. instead of the special elongated form reserved for route nos.( this elongated form has not been tested by RRL but there is little doubt that it is substantially less efficient from a legibility per unit area basis than any of the forms tested).

I am not suggesting from the above that stack-type signs should be used universally in place of road plans. For roundabouts, and for complex junctions the road plan gives a picture which considerably helps the motorist, but for the simple junction—the cross roads, the T junction, and the leaving slip road, the road plan is a luxury which adds little if anything to clarity, and much to expense.

It is difficult to give an estimate of the savings in Motorway signposting if a change of design were made for the simple junctions, whilst leaving the road plans for complex junctions. For individual signs the saving would be over 30% in area (which might be over 40% in cost) but this would apply to a minority of signs, and at a guess I would say the overall cost saving might be about 20% in cost.

The question then arises, is this an extravagant or a reasonable luxury? Bearing in mind the limited mileage of Motorways it is planned to build, and the negligible cost of signposting as a proportion of the cost of the roads, I should have thought the luxury element was a very small price to pay for having signs which, in general, have been accepted as well designed, aesthetically satisfying, and functionally satisfactory. It will of course be necessary to consider very carefully how far it would be legitimate to extend this luxury element to our all-purpose roads with their much greater mileage, and more frequent junctions, but taking only our Motorways I do not consider that the luxury element is out of scale with other expenses which have been incurred to produce an aesthetically satisfying result e.g. landscaping, rounding of cuttings, architecture of bridges, and even selection of the line of the road which may not always be the most economical, but adjusted for amenity considerations.

[signed and dated]

[end of quote]

Other documents speak in praise of this summary. This was obviously something that was passed around and written on by multiple hands so as to agree a ‘line’ to take.

Correspondence to/from the landscape interests, including CPRE and Landscape Committee [motorways only?] establishing that the Ministry had decisively referred the matter to the signing people in spite of Kindersley’s attempts to get the landscape people to butt in.

Another “agreeing the line” doc collection, from April 1960. Another mention from Cobbe, saying that Kindersley’s alternative serifed alphabet (one of them, anyway—perhaps there were multiple ones?) was developed from the original MOT alphabet, one of the parallel design aims being to make it tilable.

CTS 11. DSIR. RRL. “A paper prepared for the advisory committee on traffic signs for motor roads.” “Relative legibility distances for signs with upper and lower case lettering.” 2 pp, NP, makes reference to CTS 10 (“optimum letter size for a sign of given size”)—this is a results summary. CTS 11 is dated April 1959. Intersting observation: serifs in Kindersley letters (when compared with MOT typeface) added to the widths of many letters without improving the legibility very much, since F became confused with P and E with B, at long range. Legibility distance of Kindersley was 6-10% greater than MOT.

There’s a LOT of correspondence about IJ Pitman—perhaps inventor of Pitman shorthand, certainly a MP—who wanted information from MOT on relative superiority of upper and lower case lettering as part of a debate he was carrying out in the New Scientist with Sir Cyril Burt regarding this and related issues of type legibility. Pitman is a lousy writer and is bringing in a lot of extraneous issues, so I’m skipping over this correspondence.

Correspondence between AW Lovett (MOT) and Brooke Crutchley. (We will abbreviate him BC to save typing.) Lovett reminds BC of the following: (1) Committee qua committee has never pronounced on objective merits of lowercase vs uppercase—that’s been just a few committee members (Carrington), and Committee went for LC on aesthetic grounds. Odescalchi’s article just says it’s unnecessary to expand a sign beyond a certain given area if it is to be read at a certain distance (Lovett doesn’t say whether sign dimensions varied around fixed-height lettering with constant kerning). And dipped headlights don’t fail to illuminate the upper part of a sign. This correspondence dates from May-June 1961.

MOT correspondence and clippings regarding Kindersley’s attempt to make trouble in March 1961. “Peterborough,” a Daily Telegraph diarist, spread rumors of a meeting between Sir Colin Anderson/Noel Carrington and David Kindersley (DK) at the MOT to thrash out their differences. Lovett asked to confirm by William Deedes MP, working for Peterboro. His file note (17/3/1961) says he indicated he thought it was very improbable. Guardian 15/3/1961: Kindersley and son in workshop, with “TRUMPINGTON STREET” name sign hanging over DK’s head, in Kindersley typeface. Kindersley a resident of Barton, Cambs. Anderson tried (unsuccessfully) to tamp down the story on 8/3/1961 by writing to a Telegraph contact about DK and his campaign.

Telegraph 8/3/1961—two paragraphs in Peterboro’s column (London Day by Day), showing Kindersley’s redesigned five-arm roundabout sign plus two paragraphs. Worth reproducing in full.

Hopeful signs

David Kindersley, who was an apprentice of Eric Gill, and whose exhibition of carving, lettering and sculpture from his Cambridge workshop opened at the Crafts Centre in Hay Hill yesterday, may be about to exercise a beneficial influence on our motorways.

This versatile craftsman, with his team of four young assistants, has long been interested in lettering and its proper spacing. He advises the Ministry of Transport on the subject.

Some of his recent advice has been directed against our present system of lettering on the giant signs which adorn M1. The biggest, Mr. Kindersley told me yesterday, cover 500 sq ft—the size of a house.

Capitals are clearest

Accepting all the conditions, that they should be visible at 70 MPH and from 600 ft, Mr. Kindersley is satisfied that capital letters instead of lower case will do as good a job on far less space.

I reproduce one of his designs. An advisory committee has, I believe, examined his claim and is about to report to the Minister of Transport in his favor. If his ideas prevail the consequences will be immeasurable. [This is what Sir Colin had to rebut in his letter—the Anderson C’ttee was in fact NOT recommending Kindersley.]

For the Minister of Transport is being pressed to accept motorway signs as the standard pattern for all roads on which fast motor travel is feasible. The prospect makes the imagination quiver.

Misc correspondence about publication of final report.

Exchange of correspondence between AW Lovett and Jock Kinneir about a TV film the BBC and Rank organization have invited him to make about motorway signs. The BBC also tried to set up a TV debate with DK—Ministry advised Kinneir that he could say No from a position of strength. JK’s letter to Ministry 17/3/1961, AWL’s letter to JK 24/3/1961.

Kinneir’s letter may be worth reproducing.

[Lovett’s address at modern HA building]

17 March 1961

Dear Mr. Lovett,

I have recently been approached by the BBC and the Rank Organization to see if I would be willing to take part in two programmes. The latter were projecting a ten minute color film on signs and wished specifically to deal with the VTS sign, and possibly the motorways. The BBC asked if I would take part in a debate in the Tonight TV programme on motorway signs, with none other than a man called Kindersley. (They seem to have twigged him.) You will appreciate the position I am in. The film I welcome and I do not suppose the Ministry would object. I could inter alia point out that to have the sign designed instead of simply made showed administrative imagination.

The debate puts me in a much more difficult position. Frankly it terrifies me, but I feel that, the MT being willing, I must go through with it, as it will enable me to refute in public his tendentious claims and half-truths. From my point of view he must be stopped knocking. Perhaps you could very kindly let me know what the official attitude would be. [Official attitude is to avoid the conflict because the Anderson report isn’t being published yet, so Kinneir would have to disclose contents of report to deliver the “apparently perfect answer”—Lovett’s reply.]

In the meantime the knocking has become intense, and I am a little alarmed that he can even think he has some basis for saying that “the report is going in his favor.” In view of this statement, published in the Daily Telegraph, and although the RRL say in the Report that the results are statistically negligible, I feel it is wise to put the following points to you, and ask that they be brought to the notice of the Minister lest he be overwhelmed by buttonholding tombstone carvers!

1. Kindersley’s mis-serif signs can be read at 247’ when mine, in spaces dimensioned by the RRL, can be read at 240’. 2. This is a 2.9% advantage, and “statistically insignficant.” In fact the lettering on my signs can be enlarged without any strain to be larger in the space to produce signs exactly equal in size, cost and legibility. 3. Taking several signs of both kinds, my signs, being equal as in (2) above, are always shorter horizontally on average by 17%. This is a horizontal saving of 10@ on a sign 5’ long. 4. My signs are criticized as “being as large as a house.” This is supposed to be because we worked in lower-case. In fact it has nothing to do with it (see 2 and 3 above). We chose to make them large to be in scale to the road, and to gain large areas of uninterrupted blue to improve target value, which we have proved is lacking when, as with some pointer signs, an oblong shape has been filled with letters, thereby effectually hatching the blue with white lines. 5. The Observer motoring correspondent, and Jack Brabham the racing driver, both criticized the signs as being too small. I have myself been glad to be able to see a sign over the top of a lorry, and, in the dark, to see one over the crst of a hill. Had they been small and horizontal I should have seen them too late.

As far as appearance goes I cannot imagine even the most obdurate philistine wanting to cover England with Mis-serifs!

Forgive me if this is a nuisance, and seems not to want to lie down, but I feel it essential that true information be made available before misstatements obscure the evidence.

Copy of RRL Research Note. RN/3913/AWC/KSR—January 1961. “The relative effectiveness of some letter types designed for use on road traffic signs,” by AW Christie and KS Rutley. Probably obtainable from other sources, if I don’t have it already.

ISSUE. It appears that the RRL did not test dependence of legibility on kerning, at least in the 1961 round of study. Interlinear and marginal spaces the only cited variables, and no data referred to which would have arisen from kerning variation.

DK, “Motorway Sign Lettering,” Traffic Engineering + Control, 12/1960.

Exchange of letters between Marples and DK. Marples to DK, 15/7/1960. General lines: I have looked at the matter very closely and am satisfied with the verdict of my committee, and I feel their signs are aesthetically superior. DK to Marples, 18/7/1960. This is for your files. So, are you saying you are putting form over function? Many drafts of the Marples to DK letter.

Many drafts of a parallel letter Marples sent to CA, 6/7/1960—we agree with your conclusion, etc. Marples says that DK has misunderstood him (he met DK at the Creative Craftsmen Exhibition at 7/3/1960 at the RIBA) as giving him permission to put up one of his signs on an actual motorway. Note of thanks from CA to Marples, 7/7/1960.

Letters, DK to Marples. 27/6/1960. DK encloses criticism of motorway signs (calligraphed broadside). 4 pp. typescript, P. Cites Forbes and Moskowitz. Also cites Patterson and Tinker in the JAP 1946 (think I have the article).

Letter, DK to Marples. 17/6/1960. DK encloses mockups of the five-arm roundabout sign he understands Marples to have given him permission to redesign.

DK, letter to editor in 4/1960 issue, Design.

Letter, AWL to CA, 12/5/1960, pointing out result of actual review of 1946 JAP article. For AWL the headline finding is: “We cannot think of a single type of reading situation in which upper case printing would be advantageous.” (Tken from article conclusion.) 1946, 30, pp. 161 ff.

RRL Research Note RN/3562/RIM.AWC. “Proposals for an experiment to compare relative effectiveness of upper and lower case scripts for use on traffic signs,” RL Moore and AW Christie. The experimental design—4 pp.

BC’s intriguing now—

BC to Gilmour Jenkins (PS of MOT), suggesting further experimentation (26/5/1959) in UC/LC. LJ Dunnett (Jenkins’ successor) to BC, saying (17/7/1959) that RRL plans tests. At this point the Preston By-Pass had opened and BC was reacting to the signs on it, but signs had not yet been put up on the London-Birmingham motorway. Glanville notes in letter to Dunnett (24/7/1959) that it’s nevertheless too late to change signs for L-B m’way.

Anderson notes in a letter at one point (above, probably his rebuttal letter to the DT) that wider signs had been considered, but had been rejected on grounds that they would need more posts and ROW. (Posts come from road sign makers; ROW from MOT.)

Correspondence between AWL and editor of Design, June 1959, dealing with an article Design wants to print on the motorway signs. Article itself is 8 pp., P.

The interview/debate between Kinneir and DK, held at Design Centre 6/5/1959. 50 pp., P. The people present include: Kinneir, Kindersley, BC, Lovett (?), Carrington, and Wykes.

Blake, Design editor, also sent MOT copies of the preliminary statements of all parties for the 6/5/1959 interview. 10 pp., P.

EC Poulton, of the Med Rsc Council’s Applied Psychology Research Unit, encloses a 400-word document on testing road signs. (He was the only clear winner at the 6/5/1959 showdown.)

Anderson Committee Document No. 11—Correspondence with Messrs. BC and DK. 9 pp., P. It summarizes the correspondence with BC received by MOT, Bowes Lyon, etc.

Cites from Times letters page:

17/3/1959 20/3/1959 24/3/1959

New Scientist blurb (“Notes and comments”) 2/4/1959 regarding “Better traffic signs”—possibly authored by IJ Pitman or Cyril Burt? Advocates greater use of symbols, and consideration of serifs.

BC to Jenkins, 3/1/1959, saying that he’s more convinced than ever that the Preston By-Pass signs are bad, and urging a direct comparison on a test rig.

Minutes from the Committee on the Landscape Treatment of Trunk Roads (David Bowes-Lyon, chair). An appended document is an extract from a letter to CA to BL saying that committee has done its best to make the signs unobtrusive while maintaining target value—not making them dead-white in background etc. This is an extract from Sir colin’s letter of 16/2/1959, reproduced in full as follows.

Your letter of the 13th February enables me to explain several thing which will, I hope, give your committee cause to feel that in devising the new scheme of raod signs for the motorways we have throughout paid attention to the amenity element which all of us agree to be extremely important.

You mention two points in particular ashaving worried your committee. The first is the size of the signs themselves and the second the scaffolding on which they are at the moment erected.

As to size, we have carried out very detailed practical experiments to do with the correlation of speed and readability, which became highly mathematical and almost involved the splitting of seconds. We also personally visited other countries where vast road systems of the motorway type have long been in existence and where it can truly be said that the present size of the road signs has been arrived at through a tragic apprenticeship of trial and error. Our findings were much coloured by their experience. Those of our fellow-countrymen who see our signs for the first time in the English landscape are naturally struck by their size and are inclined to forget, as they normally see them in broad daylight, that they also have to serve swift traffic as efficiently as possible on foggy nights. We also took into consideration that there is no eyesight test for those who wish to drive in Great Britain and that the signs must allow for those drivers with less than normal vision. All this amounted to an inescapable case for a very lage road sign. That those we are proposing are not dead white makes them, I believe, less obtrusive than they might have been.

The scaffolding, on the other hand, is no part of our scheme and is purely temporary. Though we were not invited to describe how the road signs should be held up, we do know that this can be done neatly without the use of scaffolding and the only reason why there is scaffolding on the Prson By-Pass is that the signs there are all mock-ups and their supports of a makeshift character.

I should add that the intersections on the motorways only happen on average once in ten miles, which at any rate reduces the frequency with which these signposts will impinge on the landscape, though this latter fact is naturally no reason why they should be any larger than they need be. If we can reduce any, we will, but I can’t say the auguries for doing so are propitious.

Yours sincerely

Colin Anderson.

13/2/1959—DBL writes to CA to set forth views of his committee.

3/2/1959—DBL writes to CA saying he has known DK for years, thinks his lettering on stone or slate is first-class but doesn’t mean he understands road signs, and DBL wants to recuse himself from the issue by passing on his c’ttee’s views and leaving it at that.

DK to DBL, enclosing a copy of his letter to Design regarding the Preston By-Pass signs. N.d. but this is late 1958/early 1959 and may be the same letter referred to elsewhere in file.

Misc correspondence between BC and Gilmour Jenkins.

Then, 7 photo mock-ups of road signs.

MT 113/46 interestingly was closed until 1997.

MT 113/48

As noted in PRO catalogue, this contains the full meeting minutes of the Anderson committee meetings. It also contains drawings of some sample signs which were tested at Hendon by the RRL, though drawings listed as being attached to this or that set of minutes, or this or that letter, generally haven’t made their way into this file. We will essay a catalogue of the drawings first.

Actually, drawings catalogue really has to be left for later. But some major design issues the Anderson committee had to handle the details of which are partially recoverable from this file:

• A symbol for “motorway” on signs, so as to avoid the need to use constructions like “Blackpool (Motor Road)” on signs. The proposed alternative to ECE symbol used with early Kinneir font and “M6 Birmingham” (also in the font—no separate motorway alphabet at that point) on a proposed AP direction-to-motorway sign. • The decision to standardize on “motorway,” rather than the parallel terminology “motor road.” • Incorporating local road details on signs leading to a motorway. Led to a first experiment with patching—an early Kinneir font used for the portions pertaining to the motorway and destinations reached by the motorway, and white patch with black MOT font for the destinations reached off-motorway. • Choosing an appropriate typeface. Initially an adaptation of Series E Modified was tried. This was basically the same as actual Series E Modified but with somewhat tighter kerning and the top of lowercase L squared off. Design Californian, with a 60° arrow extending across almost entire height of sign used, and text “Dunstable/Luton/A505” ranged against a line parallel to the arrow shaft. Numbers also not quite the same—for instance, “5” was rather like Series D “5” but with spadelike appearance of bottom loop dramatically exaggerated, and it hanging below the baseline.

Getting ready to fold this up and go. But at minutes of 20th meeting, held 23/10/1959, it appears we see the birth of (1) bracketed destinations and route numbers and (2) “For X follow Y” signs. Bracketed destinations were proposed by the motoring organizations for the M1/M45 split near Rugby because it was not clear on the existing (unbracketed) signing which route motorists should follow to join the A5 for Shrewsbury/North Wales, and providing “(A5)” would eliminate a potential problem with travellers stopping illegally on the motorway to consult maps (much as travellers stopped casually on the German Autobahnen). AW Christie of RRL proposed “For X follow Y” as an alternative to bracketing and overlaying on existing signs, but the idea was not much liked by the committee because they felt they shouldn’t expand the number of direction signs already posted. Nevertheless, idea is right out there.


Observation noted en passant while going through MT 113/46. Someone connected with the Ministry or the Anderson committee (Lovett? Usborne? Sir Colin? Wykes?) notes that Kindersley has a point in that the Kinneir alphabet does not have clearly defined rules for letterspacing (kerning/intercharacter spacing). This criticism, it appears, is brought up in one of Kindersley’s articles in Design or Traffic Engineering + Control. This, combined with other evidence (from Cobbe) suggesting that Kindersley was modifying a MOT alphabet so that it would be tilable (and serifed?), suggests that the idea to have a traffic-sign alphabet tilable is due to Kindersley although the actual tiles were probably designed by Kinneir with advice from RRL on the required tile widths/letter spacings. Not sure where to set about tracing this. St. Bride library?