Monday, 2 June 2008
Unexpected Alphabets No 1
Some time ago I produced a little volume in my English Heritage Pocket Books series called Letters from England. Now stacked up in your remainders bookshop, I should think, in it I went on about vitreous enamel signs ending up being used for quite different purposes than those originally intended. "Many were later found doing duty as allotment shed walls, still mumbling their rusty messages amongst the courgettes." One sign I neglected to photograph in situ was discovered in the derelict kitchen of Etchingham station in Surrey, a bright yellow and red sign for an insurance company turned face to the wall as a heat screen for a gas oven. "Ask your Station Master for Details" it still whispered against the pale green plaster, until gently liberated into the Ashley Archive. And of course it isn't just enamel, as seen here in Great Bowden in Leicestershire. Backed up against a railway line a shed uses the side panel of a 60s delivery van as the back wall. The rest of the structure perhaps resonates with what was left of the vehicle. 'Courts' have long gone from the Leicestershire scene, the only reference to the name now being 'Crown', 'County' and 'Magistrates'.