Friday, 25 January 2008

Signing Policy

Long Melford has much to please the eye. A big Suffolk wool church, a village green bordered by both a turreted gateway and a gabled garden building for the Hall, plus a red brick conduit house surrounded by the sweeping greensward.
But, whilst these eyecatchers don't exactly pale into insignificance, it was this little building that brought about the squealing of brakes and an abrupt u-turn yesterday afternoon.
In 1868 a Mr. Row was station master at Long Melford station. Possibly as a result of reading his staff magazine and newspapers, his eyes must have narrowed at the commercial possibilities of insuring passengers against railway mishaps. And so this little office opened, and was so successful that Mr. Row left the Great Eastern Railway and went into the insurance business full-time. Remarkably, that's what still goes on here, with the name Row still shining on the brass plates outside. Once restricted to just carefully-incised stone lettering, signing additions have subsequently appeared in a very ad hoc fashion over the years, creating, for me, a high spot on the high street..


Diplomat said...

Purpose built commercial fronts are such a freshener. Can you imagine the fun Mr Row must have had drawing up ideas on bits of scrap paper, luggage label backs etc in his little coal heated office at the station - I can only hope he had creaky roll-top desk. After many ideas and grandiose schemes he has eventually shuffled off with Mrs Row to the local architect's office to get the ball rolling - what fun. The architect has naturally picked some masonry detail from a catalogue, and taken instruction from the excited Mr Row on letter cutting detail. The end result is as much an excercise in architectural and planning process as it is the realisation of Mr and Mrs Row's dream - and for that, all the more pleasing. Well done Mr Row.

Philip Wilkinson said...

All that ironwork around the pediment – fantastic. As if Mrs Row had said, "We should have all the trimmings, and make it really special." And all the trimmings they had.