Imagine London without its street signs? They are the sort of thing we take completely for granted but which, at some point in the past, required somebody to sit down in an office and settle upon a uniform style, design and material to cover all London streets. Despite such attempts at consistentcy, there are still numerous varieties of London street sign out there and Alistair Hall seems to have photographed all of them.
The results are collected in London Street Signs published by Batsford. This is a photographic survey of London’s many different types of street sign – black and white enamal, milk-glass, tiled, painted, carved, faded and every possible type in between. If a sign has a missing apostrophe, Hall has found it. There are ghost signs, there’s a carved kerbstone, there’s the graffiti ridden Abbey Road and there’s even the huge light up Electric sign that sits above Electric Avenue in Brixton.
As well as taking thousands of pictures, Hall has written excellent text exploring how London’s signs developed and looking in closer detail at different types and spectacular individual examples.
Font fans will enjoy it for sure, but it’s most admirable for having that unapologetic attention to detail and slightly obsessive touch that a book of this type really requires. Hall is clearly no street sign dilettente; he knews his stuff and is able to share his knowledge and enthusiasm in an accessible manner that anybody fascinated by the detail of London life will admire and appreciate. All photos below taken from the book, where they feature alongside hundreds more.