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Rushden Transport Museum

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Object of the month

Early road signs were almost unregulated. There were regional variations of symbols, colour schemes, and wording. This proved confusing, when travelling greater distances, as sign styles changed.


Reflector Sign showing “Cats Eye” style reflectors.

In 1933, Percy Shaw invented the
“Cats Eyes” road markers for highlighting the centre line of the road at night. The same style of reflectors were utilised on roadside signs, as shown here.




Part of a “SCHOOL” sign showing raised lettering.

At this time, roadside signs were usually made of cast iron, painted with a white background, and black raised detail. The reflectors were used to highlight the symbol, when highlighted by vehicle headlights.




An alternative reflector system was a glass
refractor_signor plastic disc, with a prismatic pattern on the rear side, to again reflect the headlights.






Relatively modern “CATTLE” sign.

As technology progressed, roadside signs were made from cast aluminium, still with raised detail. Later still, the signs were made from aluminium sheet, with retroreflective white coating, from 3M. The black detail was applied afterwards, to show the warning symbol, and lettering.


Detail of “CATTLE” sign showing flat lettering, as in modern signs.








In later years, signage was standardised across the UK, by the
Anderson Committee (1957), the Warboys Committee (1963),
and the Guilford Rules (c 1985).

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