Post Office Heritage Signs – A Restoration Project

heritage plaqueThe British Postal Museum and Archive take an active role in preserving our British Heritage. One such project was the restoration of a now rare blue airmail pillar box from the 1930s, including the recreation of heritage signs.

Special post boxes for the collection of airmail were on British streets for less than nine years yet they continue to fascinate. Originally intended to be placed in prominent positions in London, by 1936, there were 139 in London and 174 in the provinces. Much of the interest in these boxes comes from the colour that they were painted: blue.

Heritage Signs

Stocksigns, based at Redhill were engaged for the work of replicating the airmail signs. Founded in 1955, the company had purchased Burnham Signs (founded 1877) who, in turn, incorporated Garnier & Co. (established 1891). Garnier had been the original supplier of the small airmail signs to the Post Office in the 1930s. This commissioning was an attempt to preserve some continuity of provenance in the restoration.

Stocksigns was tasked with re-creating the oval and enamel airmail sign. As the originals were in quite poor condition, it was decided to conserve these in as original condition as possible and commission replicas to be fixed to the restored box. Restoration of the signs would have removed much that is original, and it is highly unlikely that more than a handful of original examples survive today. Such a curatorial decision permits the original signs to be available for research in their original and preserved condition.

heritage signs

To read more about this restoration project visit the British Postal Museum & Archive for the full story.

Vitreous Enamel Signs – How are they made?

vitreous enamel signsVitreous enamel signs have been used for over a 100 years. However the enamelling process is believed to date back much further. We are often asked why people still choose vitreous enamel signs over more modern products. The answer is simple, nothing can compare to vitreous enamel signs in terms of;

  • Fire retardant properties – Vitreous Enamel signs are chosen for underground applications
  • Low maintenance – Very hard wearing
  • Environmental resistance – ideal for corrosive industrial or severe atmospheres
  • Long life – look as good as new for forty years or more
  • Vandal Resistance – graffiti and impact resistance

These exceptionally hard wearing and aesthetically pleasing signs are often still the preferred choice for many designers. The typical hard wearing qualities associated with Vitreous Enamel are created during the skilled manufacturing process. We have created a short film to give you a brief idea of what is involved.

The Vitreous Enamel Signs Manufacturing process

Signs for the DDA – Rail Signs Guide

signs for the DDA Click here for our DDA rail signage guide pdf

Rail Signs from Stocksigns

All surface rail companies are constantly striving to provide better access and a better travelling experience for all their customers. Stocksigns plays a key part in helping train operators deliver these improvement projects through careful management of the accompanying signage.

DDA and SFA

A Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) or Step Free Access (SFA) improvement scheme is designed to supplement access and egress around a station.

As part of this scheme, Network Rail have undertaken a comprehensive program to improve many of its managed station facilities. Under the Disabled Peoples Protection Policy (DPPP), access to platforms is being improved. This usually means the provision of a new footbridge with lifts, or when possible, lift towers developed next to an exisiting footbridge, giving a step free route between platforms.

Rail Signage

Although schemes are sponsored by Network Rail, in most cases the signage should be complementary to what exists at present on the station.

Station signage is usually specific to individual operators. Most train operators have their own typeface, colour scheme and corporate identity that specifies what is required.

Read more about Rail Signs for the DDA

Vitreous Enamel Signs Guide

vitreous enamel signs Where you must absolutely NOT use  Vitreous Enamel Signs

If You Care about Your Signage – Don’t use Vitreous Enamel Signs (VE)

1. When you don’t want your signs to last a long time.
Why? –  Vitreous Enamel is notorious for its vastly extended life over other materials. They will look as good as new even after 40 years, making them an ideal long term signage solution.

2. When there is NO chance of any corrosion
Why?  – Vitreous Enamel’s glass-like properties protect the whole sign so that it is safe from attack from corrosion. That’s why they are specified for marine environments because they can resist attack from salt. Applications range from oil platforms to the logo’s on ships’ funnels.

3. When chemicals such as acids and alkalis are not going to be a threat.
Why? –  Vitreous Enamel has amazing resistance to most chemicals, including solvents. This makes them ideal for corrosive, industrial, or severe atmospheres.

4. When the finish and aesthetics of your signs are unimportant to you.
Why? – Vitreous Enamel’s lustrous surface appearance, “relief effect” of the enamel layers and the wide range of colours and designs available mean that Vitreous Enamel Signs are very pleasing to the eye. Because of this they are frequently used for decoration, especially in pubs, restaurants and hotels and used as a specialist medium for many artists.

5. When your sign will never be subject to mechanical abrasion.
Why? – Vitreous Enamel has the advantage of being virtually scratch proof compared with other materials, giving it  great robustness. This is one of the reasons why vitreous enamel is often specified for wayfinding lecterns in busy cities where there is a high level of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

6. When you are keen to be involved in regular sign maintenance.
Why? – Vitreous Enamel’s hard surface makes the signs very easy to keep clean, restoring the original brightness with a wipe. This quality has made vitreous enamel the preferred choice for electricity pylon identity plates where access is notoriously difficult.

7. When you don’t mind the colours in your sign fading.vitreous enamel signs
Why? – Vitreous Enamel’s colourfastness ensures the sign looks as bright after many years as it did when first manufactured. Examples of vitreous enamel advertising signs dating from the 18oos still look as vibrant as when they were first displayed.

8. When there is no danger of a graffiti assault on your signs.
Why?  – Any graffiti on Vitreous Enamel signs can be removed with a solvent cleaner. Vitreous Enamel signs are often the first choice for councils, particularly for park and recreation ground signage.

9. When you don’t have to worry about extremes of temperature.
Why? –  Vitreous Enamel can withstand a very wide variation in temperature, and is very fire resistant, which is why it is specified in London Underground stations.

10. When you have no interest in life time cost of your signs.
Why? – Vitreous Enamel Sign’s durability, longevity and brightness makes this material extremely cost effective over time. Their long life often means that vitreous enamels signs pay for themselves over and over again during long term projects.

So here in a nutshell are reasons for NOT using Vitreous Enamel Signs.

Vitreous Enamel Signs – New Gallery

Due to popular demand we have made some of our Vitreous Enamel Sign Pictures available to view. Enthusiasts and collectors from all round the world ask us for images of these iconic signs. Made from exceptionally hard-wearing Vitreous Enamel these signs have stood the test of time and look good as new for 40 years plus!

Shell Oil Vitreous Enamel Advertising Sign

For more about Vitreous Enamel Signs and Stocksigns visit our vitreous enamel signs page.

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