Town entrance signs project

All towns have signs on their main entrance roads. Mostly they simply state the town’s name, sometimes they include the name of another town they’re twinned with. People approaching a town in a car don’t have time to safely read much more so, not surprisingly, the signs are usually simple and straightforward in design.

Road signs have to conform to county and national regulations regarding visibility, reflectiveness, font-size, height, wind-loading, distance from the roadway and more. Perhaps because of this, they tend to look much the same from a distance.

For the residents of a town entrance signs are largely pointless; after all, they know where they live and, for them, the signs become largely invisible in time. As they also do to those who regularly drive through.

Some towns build additional entrance signs to proclaim qualities particular to their area, a kind of civic promotional branding. Sometimes these will be related to local products, for example: Melton Mowbray’s town sign says ‘Rural Capital of Food’ and ‘Home of the Pork Pie’; while Hay-on-Wye, site of an annual literature festival, calls itself ‘Town of Books’.

What we are doing in Crediton – with the help of a small grant from the government’s High Street Innovation Fund (HSIF), administered by Mid-Devon District Council – is exploring a range of possible designs for entrance signs which reflect the town’s character. We are a rural town with a proud history of wool and textile production, of ecclesiastical devotion and mission, but while that’s a noble heritage it’s not what we are known for now, and nor have we for a long time. Arguably though, over the past 30 years there has been a surge of creative community and artistic expression in Crediton which not only generated many excellent productions, festivals and crafts, but also triggered the creation of our town square, so there might be designs which explore those, and other, themes.

It might be that the designs which are generated are abstract rather than literal and might speak for themselves without any words, or they might link in some way with the High Street flags which have become so popular. Whatever the end result, the design process will aim to include many of the town’s creative people and students, with the final options being publicly presented to help choose the best ones.

Even with a final design, there is no guarantee that the signs will be built any time soon: planning permission will need to be given; county and national highway regulations will need to be obeyed; and fund-raising will be required to gather the money for making them and securing them in place.

The design process and public consultations are ongoing.

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