National Archives 2003-05-22

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Arrived in London much as usual.

MT 95/606

I had asked for this file to be held back for today because I didn’t discover it until fairly late on Tuesday and felt I had to return it for storage in order not to lose my ability to view other files I had requested (if I had kept it, I would have had a full three files on my desk, and would not have been able to collect the other files before pickup closed at 4.45). What follows is a catalogue of the drawings, whose generalities have been described in Tuesday’s file. Specific notes about colors, though: red is BS 381C Signal Red (no. 537); white is white reflective; green is color no. 6-074 of BS 2660 (eventually incorporated in 381C as Worboys green, IIRC); black is black. Unless otherwise noted, all drawings are near A2 size and are 1/6 scale. (Small note: the 80 W weatherproof fluorescent sign light specification is dated August 1959, revised through May 1961.)

• B5005—Intersection on right, ¼ mile (warning sign with integral supplementary plate, stub arms have chamfered ends and 60° points, “1/4” on sign has slanted fraction bar) • B5003—Roads merge (warning sign with integral supplementary plate, chamfered stub arms with 60° points, “ROADS MERGE” on supp plate) • B5008, B5009—SMD and sign light mounting details. • B5006—Staggered junctions ¼ mile (integral warning sign) • B5010A—Kinneir alphabet and numerals (now Transport Medium) (issued 27/4/1961, but on 2/10/1961 brackets and punctuation marks added) • B5002—Two-way traffic (warning sign, integral supp plate, “TWO WAY/TRAFFIC,” filled-barb arrows) • B5001—Road narrows (“ROAD NARROWS” integral supplementary plate and narrowing on both sides) • B5118—Local approach direction sign type D (similar to a modern stack sign, but with filled-barb arrows. However, all distances at uniform 10” numeral height, while top destinations have 6” loop height and bottom destination has 8” loop height. Sign formatted as follows:

[upward left arrow] Edmondstown 2 Dinas 4 [ruled line] [left arrow] Tyn-y-bryn 3

ALTERNATE (partial drawing) with upward right arrow in upper panel, downward right arrow in bottom panel

• B5115—Local approach direction sign Type A—dimensions much as for B5118 except both destinations have 8” loop height letters. Typical:

[Left arrow] Weedon 7 Watford 3½ [right arrow]

• B5100—Final advance direction sign Type A1—basically a fork sign. Shows Grantham as forward destination, Oakham A606 as exit destination, with point of stub arm between “Oakham” and “A606.” Stub arm representing forward destination slopes R 1 in 18. Like all of the other direction signs, this has a doubled border with the far outer border being green, inner border white. 10” loop height throughout, route numbers 20” high. • B5101—Final advance direction sign Type A2—as for B5100 but with one additional exit destination. Forward destination Wakefield, exit destinations Luton, Harpenden, A6. Stub arm end between “Harpenden” and “A6.” • B5102—Final advance direction (roundabout) sign Type C1. Five-arm roundabout, clockwise from entry arm: Preston/A5, Blackpool/A595, Lancaster/A59, Blackburn/A5. Universal 8” loop height. • B5103—Final advance direction (roundabout) sign Type C2. Four-arm roundabout, clockwise from entry arm: Stony/Stratford/A5, Blackpool/A595, Lancaster/A59. Otherwise, as for B5102. • B5104—Final advance direction (roundabout) sign Type C3. Shows only a 120°-180° selection of the full circuit of a roundabout, ie three arms: clockwise from entry, Oakham/Weedon/A428, Coventry/A45. 1/8 scale, 8” loop height. • B5105—Advance direction sign (1/2 mile) Type D1—Basically a fork sign: no forward destination, exit destinations Northampton/A45. “1/2 m” distance figure with slanted fraction bar. Exit stub arm positioned between final placename & route number as usual; straight-ahead arm slopes 1 in 18. • B5106—Advance direction sign (1/2 mile) Type D2—As for B5105 but with additional placename. Bedford/Leighton/Buzzard/B557. “Buzzard” indented to align with “e” in “Leighton” (placename divided between 2 lines). • B5107—Advance direction sign (1/2 mile) Type E—A stack-type sign with one destination to right of upward left arrow, then ruled line (not full panel width), then one destination to left of right arrow, then panel divider, then “1/2 mile.” 10” LC loop height throughout, 13” high numerals in the fraction, fraction fits within a 18 ½” high space. Exemplars: Radlett/A45, Daventry/A428. • B5108—Supplementary exit sign type A—basically, an Anderson-style fingerpost. The filled triangle at L end is equilateral, set in 4” from taper border, 6” from point. Exemplar: A5 Dunstable, 8” LC loop height. • B5109—Supplementary exit sign type B—As for B5108 except for a second destination ranged left of the road number, which is centered vertically on the placename block. Exemplar: A405, Dunchurch/Barnsley. • B5110—Supplementary exit sign Type C—As for B5108 except for three placenames. Arranged much as on B5109. Exemplar: A683, Ampthill/Grantham/Wakefield. • B5111—Supplementary exit signs Type D1 & D2—D1 consists of a single rectangular panel: L arrow, A505, Dunchurch. D2 is as D1 except “Dunchurch” omitted. 8” LC loop height. • B5112A—Route confirmatory sign (typical)—Exemplar: A1, Grantham, 19 m. 8” LC loop height throughout, but on this sign height of road number is 12” rather than the corresponding 16”. “19” is 10” tall. • B5113—Final advance direction sign type B1—basically a stack sign, except destinations are separated by ruled lines not running full panel width. Exemplars: Ampthill/A1 (straight ahead, arrow to left), Radlett/A45 (arrow pointing left & on left), Blyth/A45 (arrow pointing right & on right). 10” LC loop height throughout. • B5114—Final advance direction sign type B2—much as B1 except the LH destination has upward left rather than left arrow. Exemplars: Northampton/A45, Newport/Pagnell/A45, Woburn/A47. “P” in “Pagnell” aligned with “e” in “Newport.” • B5117—Local approach direction sign type C—much as the other types, with separate directions on separate panels, but an unusual combined tie-bar/arrow in bottom panel. 8” LC loop height, 10” numbers. Exemplar: left arrow Sheffield 3; Dunchurch 2/Weedon 5/Bletchley 9 ranged to left of tie bar/arrow. • B5116—Local approach direction sign. This has no distances or road numbers, just destinations. Top panel: integral arrow/tie bar, Dunchurch, Weedon; bottom panel: Sheffield, presumably left arrow (this drawing incomplete because it’s in several pieces—in an envelope labelled “unrepairable poster”). 8” LC loop height, 1/8 scale. CORRECTION—distances included: 2, 9, 3, that order. 10” numerals.

We now appear to be done with the sign posters. We now move on to the schemes where these signs were actually tried. There are plans for

• Beds CC, A1 Black Cat to North of Wyboston (A1/A428 Roxton). Signposted destinations would have included Bedford, Biggleswade, and St Neots. • Beds CC, A1 Biggleswade By-Pass. • Beds CC, A1 Blunham Turn to Black Cat (A1/B1043 Tempsford).

The rest are draft layouts and SMD.

MT 113/108

This file is entitled “All-purpose roads built to motorway standards. Traffic Signs—Policy” and has covering dates in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. Not being gone through in detail, but some interesting facts:

• The initial series of AP/MS signs adapting the Anderson motorway sign designs were proposed and designed by a Working Party chaired by WF Adams. (Perhaps the Adams committee ranks up there with Anderson and Worboys?) These were trialled on the Stamford and Grantham bypasses, and on a length of the Great North Road (GNR) south of the Stamford bypass down to Wansford. The Scottish Home Dept. also wanted to try similar signs on the Ayr bypass, but decided to await the outcome of the Stamford and Grantham experiments before committing themselves to the 10 x greater expense of the new signs. (The comparison was between the signs as erected with lighting fixtures to the RRL design, and 1957 Regs. Signs.) • Cost of the Adams signs was estimated at £1,785 per GSJ. This was about 10x the cost using 1957 standards. • File contains minutes for the Adams committee (well, some of them, anyway). • Within the MOT, controversy arose when Adams apparently gave permission for signs to be erected on the Grantham and Stamford bypasses without obtaining agreement in principle from other branches. • Part of the difference in cost resulted from the difference in required letter heights. The 1957 Regs required letters only 2” tall (UC only). The standard letter height for Anderson signs was 12” LC loop height, and 10” for Adams signs. • Correspondence in the file between Kinneir and AS Lovett of MOT. Kinneir says his friends have complained about corruptions of the Anderson signs used on the Watford BP. Lovett is confused because the only experimental sites he knows about for the Adams signs are Grantham and Stamford, and the signs for those locations have been made by the same people who did the LYM signs (Franco). He asks Kinneir for further details while instituting inquiries within the MOT WRT Watford. Apparently the correspondence died away.

MT 113/99

This file, entitled “Motorways and special roads. Traffic signs. Traffic signs (motorways) regulations” and with covering dates in the early 1960’s, indicates that the MOT wanted to make regulations for the motorway signs as early as 1960/61 to allow them to be erected without special authorization. This file contains draft regulations to that general effect, drawn up in much the same way as draft TSRGD 1964—typescript for the Regulations and cuttings and pastings from the Anderson report for the Schedules. By 1962 it was considered desirable to incorporate the Adams signs (for AP/MS roads) into the proposed motorway signs regs. In 1963, however, the Worboys committee was ready to report, so it was thought advantageous to combine motorways and all-purpose roads under one TSRGD and effort was transferred to that. (The only disadvantage, pointed out by the Treasury Solicitor in correspondence in August 1963, was that the resulting regulations would be fairly long. Clearly, in the officials’ minds, this was outweighed by the benefit of having a consolidated set of regs.)

MT 126/1

This file, entitled “Motorway signs,” is apparently the MOT’s general file on the Anderson committee and design policy WRT motorway signs. It covers many issues.

• Letter from McNeil, 23/2/1959: a 1957 sign on the Preston By-Pass! Apparently the curve at the N end (which eventually became part of the interchange with M55) was constructed with a design speed of only 60 MPH while the rest of the motorway was built to 70 MPH. The resulting problems with design consistency had led the Lancs police to press the CC to install a bend sign to 1957 standards. This caused much fuss within the MOT, which came up with various proposals for a more modern-looking bend sign while debating the principle of providing signing for this bend at all (“Do we really want to advertise the presence of a sharp bend on our first motorway?” “We must accept the police view that the sign is necessary”). • Descriptions of initial experience with motorway signs in Scotland. • An explanation of why the Anderson signs were adapted to Worboys design rules:


Loose minute

Mr. Duff

Motorway signs

You asked for a note of the circumstances which led to the Worboys type signs being adopted on Motorways.

The decision to change from the Anderson type signs to Worboys was reached at a meeting held on 8th August 1963, which was called to discuss the impact of the Worboys Report on motorway signs. Representatives from GTI, HS, HEM(B) and HETE attended the meeting and a note of the outcome is recorded at Doc. 6 flagged on the attached file (GT 17/2/024 Part 1).

Briefly the meeting decided that:

(1) As far as possible signs on motorways should be standardized on the lines laid down for all-purpose roads. (2) Route symbols should be thickened. (3) The present form of letters and figures for route numbers should be retained, and (4) The Worboys rules for the design of advance direction signs should be applied to motorway signs so as to achieve the most economic use of sign space.

The above proposals were subsequently included in the letter of consultation on the 12th December 1963 but not comments of any substance were received in reply.

One of the major considerations which led to the change is the fact that the new designs result in a substantial reduction in sign area. This it is estimated varies from 15% for large advance direction signs to 30% for the smaller signs. In the case of the larger signs, which can cost up to £500 each, this represents a substantial saving in production cost.

Although they follow the general recommendations of the Anderson Report the present motorway signs are not prescribed, nor are they made to any consistent design rules. The new traffic signs regulations will prescibe motorway signs separately from signs for all-purpose roads, and motorway signs will be designed in accordance with the design rules agreed for the Worboys type signs, thus ensuring consistency of design from one sign to another.

Another factor which influenced the decision to change was the advantage which was to be gained from having a uniform system of signing on all roads. It has been accepted that Worboys type signs are appropriate for all-purpose roads built to near motorway standard and other high speed dual carriageway roads. This being so it was difficult to justify a different design of sign for motorways.

The Worboys Committee, in paragraph 144 of their report, recommended that Primary routes should be indicated by a route symbol of 6 SW. The emphasis which the Committee put on this feature was considered sufficient to justify adoption of the same principle on new motorway signs, in which this width of route symbol has been adopted. This is perhaps the feature which most distinguishes the new from the previous motorway designs.

It should be mentioned that the same designer, Mr Jock Kinneir was responsible for both the Anderson designs and for the Worboys counterparts, the latter being evolved with a background of some years experience with the Anderson types. In this connection Mr Kinneir has closely collaborated with the Department in the redesign of the Motorway advance direction sign, since the layout differs in detail from the corresponding all-purpose road signs. Comparison of Diagrams 703 and 907 of the new Regulations will show these differences.

(unreadable initials—Maybe Hale?)

8th December 1964


• By this stage, apparently, some internal design references had been developed. These were handed to a representative of Sir Owen Williams: (1) Rules for the Design of Road-Signs for All Roads, revised January 1964; a copy of TG Usborne’s letter 9/12/1963, under reference GT 17/2/024; sheets containing diagrams of the alphabets. TG Usborne’s letter in particular communicates the decision to use patches for higher-type roads. • Correspondence pertaining to emergency direction signs—perhaps a first appearance of black-on-yellow diversion signs? FM Hale, 26/2/1964. • HN Ginns, 29/10/1963: We accept the principle of regional destinations (called “area destinations” at that stage), but shall they be put first in destination blocks, or buried under town names? Former chosen after it was determined that Continental practice was divergent, with about half the countries doing it one way, half the other way. • HW Barkas, 22/7/1963: proposes patching in a note to Hale. • Patching was discussed at a meeting, 6/9/1963. This continued an earlier discussion by GT and HS divisions, 8/8/1963, which failed to come up with a recommendation as to which color should be used for ADS, assuming that a choice of color for the whole background should be made. In the September mtg, it was decided to compromise: give the Minister a choice between a patch, or a separate panel. • Interesting fact: it cost £325 PA to rent the scaffolding for the Preston BP signs. • Some discussion over whether to adopt the (general) US practice of using upward-pointing arrows to indicate movements, and downward-pointing arrows to indicate position. • Drake to McNeil: 31/10/1958: I wanted to use blue Scotchlite for the sign backgrounds, but the Anderson committee said no. Now I’ve taken CSS officials over the motorway and they both prefer the Scotchlite background—so can we use that please? (McNeil is DCE.) • McNeil to Drake, 3/11/1958: Sorry, no can do: Committee needs to see its handiwork first. • There is a file note about the numbering of motorways, outlining one proposal. • There are also file notes about technical aspects of motorway sign supports (mainly overhead), citing an August 1957 Roads and Streets article by Virginia’s traffic engineer regarding sign supports. Truss preferred for appearance and rigidity, but limiting sign areas of 60-180 SF given for various structures. Costs for trusses begin at $500, scale upwards to ca. $25,000 for an OSB at the Delaware River bridge required to accommodate two signs of 5 x 22 (110 SF) each. Sign lighting? Neon one option, acceptable only if you want a red message. Most American agencies going over to tubular fixtures (fluorescent). • Drake also has an essay (dated 1957) on motorway signs—“Notes on motorway signs.” Drake formulated it after 500 miles of holiday driving on the German Autobahnen. • Note from Hadfield, undated, citing an uncited “publication in Texas” regarding signs on the Gulf Freeway in Houston. What Hadfield describes are recognizable as cantilever and OSB structures. Signs are plywood covered with plastic sheeting; button copy used. 18” letters legible from 1200 ft, 24” ones from about 1900 ft. Hadfield: why would anyone want to read a sign from 1/3 a mile away? • There is also an essay making the case for appointing a motorway signs committee. • There was a departmental Working Party on motorways convened by Lennox-Boyd in 1953, with PD Proctor in the chair. MATERIAL ON THIS SHOULD BE SOUGHT OUT. • Clipping on the M2 motorway between Sittingbourne and Maidstone (apparently Farthing Corner has a bridge restaurant). • Glassine envelope: pictures of early motorway sign installations. • Envelope 1: sign design sheets. • Envelope 2: no finished sheets—very conceptual drawings.

MT 95/537

This file contains mainly correspondence pertaining to the revisions of Memoranda 575, 577, and 653 in a new Memorandum 780 on “Design and layout of roads in rural areas.” It is concerned mainly with widths in terms of numbers of lanes, and also with design capacities. There is not very much of interest other than a proof copy of Memo 780.

MT 95/632

Though it has “Road layout” in the title, this file deals almost exclusively with soil survey issues (1961-65). Apparently the problems to be faced include:

• Designing an acceptable standard contract for getting soil investigations (one complaint was that some line items, such as carrying out shear tests on drained specimens, could vary radically in cost with the materials tested—say £5,000 for sand or £50,000-£75,000 for clay, with gravel somewhere in between). • Matching the soil investigation job to the capacities of the firms involved—one comment was that some CS outfits were advertising work for completion in four months which the biggest soil survey outfits in the UK could barely finish in 12. • Matching the information requirements to the work commissioned (CS outfits were urged to have a dedicated soil engineer on staff).

Basically, the geotechnics people were having an inferiority crisis—they say they would like to do overseas visits to see how things are done in other countries, much like the traffic signs and pavement people get to do.