Tuesday, July 06, 2010
On the platform of my local station, I noticed that the Mind The Gap notice is written in three different fonts. Ooh. So that got me thinking about fonts on the railways and whether that has any history. And, of course, it does.
It wasn't just fonts, either. When British Rail was created back in 1965 it had its own entire design department that worked on everything from fonts to the iconic signs adorning its rolling stock. The folks in that came up with a Rail Alphabet for frick's sake. It replaced the font, Gill Sans, that had been used on the railways since 1928 - two years after Eric Gill came up with it and the same year that Monotype Imaging released it for wider use. Another fan of Gill Sans was, is, the BBC.
Hey, there are also fonts for use on road signs too. Called, almost inevitably, Transport.
It didn't end there. There was also a set of cutlery designed for use on the railways and in many other government institutions. Called "Thrift" it was designed by David Mellor. Spooky moment - his wife was the biographer of Eric Gill. Ooh, it looks like you can still buy Thrift. Fab.
Thrift cut the 11 pieces of flatware usually found in a canteen of cutlery to five and each one was pared back to its basics so it could be made cheaply. Despite that it looks fab. How many hands have held Thrift knives and forks - untold millions I'd guess. How many know? Hardly none, I'd guess. I love the fact that the story is hidden in plain sight though.