Two of these large, stencilled signs frame the compact, pedestrianised forecourt of East Putney, and I believe their design is unique. I can’t think of anywhere else on the network that boasts these kinds of unorthodox yet stylish proclamations, which makes my lack of knowledge about their conception and history all the more embarrassing.
The fact they are so atypical, and so completely beyond even the broadest of indulgences entertained by Transport for London’s in-house transport style tsars, just makes them all the more fascinating – besides inviting a clutch of teasing questions.
Were they put up perhaps as a consequence of a local YTS exercise? Or a maverick councillor, tired of design edicts from a metropolitan authority? Are they meant to be something else that went a little awry and had to be turned hastily into what we see today? Or are they porticos of the past, hailing from the station’s previous lifetimes, before British Rail sold the line to London Underground in 1994 for the choice sum of one pound sterling?
I’m sure the truth is rather more mundane, though any initiative that leads to the creation of something so artfully conspicuous can’t be entirely without flair.
But then you can show me any elevated, embossed post-war font, preferably outside a bit of public infrastructure, and I’m as happy as a sandboy.