Welcome to what I hope will be the first of many reflections on the typography and lettering that help make our environments interesting and unique. 

For this first post I will focus on a particular feature of King’s Lynn. An ancient and once important East Anglian trading port, King’s Lynn has a wealth of historical landmarks, quirks and treasures, many of which I hope to feature here in future posts, but to start with I want to draw your attention to a number of street signs around the town centre:

There appears to be a fair amount of name changing going on. Although I quite like the stroke of the arm on the lowercase ‘r’ below, I think that the correct form should be a capital…

I would like to see a modern-day town council meeting where it was unanimously agreed to change of the names of two historically named streets into ‘High Street.’ But seriously, I haven’t been able to find any concrete reason why any of these streets changed their names. I have found stories and ideas about why, but nothing that explains why so many of them were changed. If anyone knows why, or knows of a good web reference for this information, please let me know.

Baxters Plain – it just works better doesn’t it? They really know how to re-name things around here.

Whilst I was taking this shot I realised that was also taking a photo of a CCTV camera and thought I would end up being collared for suspicious activity:

It is a little-known fact that King’s Lynn was the first town in the country to install CCTV in its town centre. It is also the first town to install a resident pigeon on each camera. ‘Watch Pigeons’ are part of the boroughs tough stance on anti-social behaviour in the town centre.

King’s Lynn still has a number of these old revolving barbers poles outside its tonsurial temples. This one stands incongruously above a rather posh ladies salon these days but I’m glad it’s still there.

 The obvious typographical flaw in these signs is in the word spacing. Some may describe the spacing as ‘generous’ or ‘deluxe’ but we all know what we really think, don’t we? There are a number of kerning issues too; look at the word ‘formerly’ below to see that the r-m relationship is not visually consistent with the rest of the spacing, which is compounded by the more balanced relationship between the r-l-y.

There are a few others too, and rather than just point them out, I have made the kerning and spacing adjustments I think this particular sign needs.

So what’s in your neighbourhood? I am putting out a request for contributors for the “my type of… place” section of this blog and would like you to put together your own typographic tour. If you are interested, download the contributors information sheet for more details, ideas and specifications here.

Street Name Sign information
London Street Signs
Amusing Street Names