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Cast Iron Signs

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June 2002
Founding of the LBR’s Schools at Wolverton
The Watford Tanks
LNWR Post Office Carriages (Part 1)
Royal Visit to Crewe 1913
Old Photographs
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Cast Iron Signs
Power and Reward 1922
A Run in the ‘Problem’
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Mike Williams

This article sets out to describe the various families of cast iron signs used by the LNWR to notify, inform and warn its staff and the public. Although the designs were many and varied there was a considerable amount of standardisation, especially when one considers that the LNWR existed for some 76 years. No attempt has been made to cover signs displayed on joint lines, since the pure LNWR ones are complicated enough. Similarly, signs attached to moving vehicles, or those associated with signalling and signal boxes have been described in great detail in specialist books on these subjects. My thanks to Ken Jones for many of the photographs, and for checking the text. Move to the photographs page

Perhaps an enterprising manufacturer would like to use these illustrations, with the sizes given in the text (width by height), to produce a set of etches for modellers.

We start with a common line-side sign, usually referred to by its title – NOTICE. Measuring 18in square, it is very thick and with a plain border having square corners. They were screwed to gates and warned of an enormous (for those days) fine if any person should neglect to close the offending gate after use. For some reason which has never be explained to me, there are two versions of this sign, usually referred to as double paragraph and single paragraph, for obvious


reasons. The single paragraph is slightly easier to find and is half the thickness (and half the weight!), suggesting a later date, but both are common signs. The single paragraph version only bears a date of 1st November 1883, which presumably refers to an Act of Parliament and may indicate that double paragraph variants were cast prior to that date.

SHUT & FASTEN THE GATE. Unusually for the LNWR, this sign is thin, plain, and has no border at all. It measures 33½in by 3in. No varieties are known to me, though some other railways used similar styles. These were often fixed to the top rail of a gate, with the previously described NOTICE lower down. Since no company name appears one can only assume that these signs were made by the LNWR.

BEWARE OF THE TRAINS – on a post. These were used at footpaths or fences where there was no gate, not necessarily where anyone was expected or entitled to cross the line. The message was simple and obvious. A rarer variety has thicker, more clumsy letters and is assumed to have been older, since generally earlier signs were thicker. Both types measure 21in by 13in, with a flange on the bottom, through which four bolts fixed them to a 4ft 6in tall cast iron post which was cruciform in section with a 12in square heavy base. They were simply buried

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