This Instagram Account of Unusual Street Signs is a Masterclass in London History

By Holly Brockwell on at

In among all the bikini selfies and #blessed hashtags, Instagram can occasionally offer up a real gem. @londonstreetnameplates is definitely one of those.

Created by Alistair Hall of Clerkenwell design studio We Made This, the account collects unusual, interesting and notable street signs around London. While that alone is enough to get a certain flavour of geek salivating, the photos also come with informative captions that have already taught us a whole bunch of stuff we never knew about the capital.

It's the kind of stuff you might idly wonder about while on the way to somewhere, but never get around to Googling. Hall fills you in on the history of the sign, and often throws in some designer's observations about font and layout too.

Says the official blog post about the project:

"All across this magnificent city of ours you can find a remarkable archive of lettering. A unique collection of styles and forms that stretches back to the 18th century. They hide in plain sight, these little labels – we use their information daily, but perhaps we fail to really notice them. And they aren’t just visual anchors, telling us where we are, but are temporal anchors too, telling us where we’ve come from.

For the past year, we’ve been gradually documenting these street signs, picking out the ones that are most significant, the most beautiful, the most curious. From enamel plates to incised lettering, from the simplest cast iron signs to the most ornamental architectural plaques. We’ve been ambling from borough to borough building up a visual record of this shaded corner of our collective history.

We’ve also the been digging and delving in various archives, libraries and collections, attempting to piece together the stories behind these generally unassuming treasures."

If you know of an interesting sign that's not on the feed, here's how to submit it.

Check out the whole stream here. You'll be down the rabbit hole for hours, we reckon. [Londonist]

Main image via We Made This