An unusual auction is coming up next month with a chance to acquire some rather unique — and based on the estimate prices — curiously cheap bits of London memorabilia.

Westminster City Council and Transport for London are upgrading all of their signposting in the Capital as part of the Legible’ London campaign… and are flogging off the family silver the old signs they are taking down.

Some of them are frankly about as obscure as it is possible to get — who’s even heard of the Planning Inquiry Chamber? Hardly anyone, which is why the estimate is just £10-£20 for the sign.


Lots pointing towards local toilets, that I suspect will be snapped up by oh-so-trendy pubs and restaurants.


Maybe a few pointing to your place of work – should you work (or live) in such an august institution that needed street signs?


Some might appeal to transport geeks.


The auction is however not taking place in London, but rather curiously in West Sussex, as part of a wider sale of garden ornaments by an auction house.

Personally, I’m sure the bids would have been higher if the sale had been held in Westminster, and at a venue easier for the general public to attend. Oh well.

The auction takes place next month — on the 21st May — and the full listing is here.

On a personal note, while I appreciate the need for signage to be improved and standardised to make it easier to follow, part of me is sad to see signs taken down like this. Part of the charm when I wander around the places is seeing very old, very shabby street signs dotted around the place.

They add heritage to a place in a manner that is sometimes all too quickly lost when the buildings around them are redeveloped.

Street signs are a part of our heritage — we shouldn’t be so quick to discard them in favour of the perpetual calls for standardisation.


Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with:

This website has been running now for over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, it doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether it's a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what you read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

  1. Phil Baines says:

    Old(ish) does not necessarily equal heritage. These directional signs are all newer than 1990 and have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, the lettering is too thin and the letter-spacing too tight to aid reading at any distance, they were unfit for purpose from the start. Rejoice that they are gone.

  2. Jim says:

    I think you’ve misread it. Lots 1 to 127 (none of which are street signs or related) are part of the live auction on 21st May. The signs are part of a sealed bid, so presumably you don’t need to physically be in Sussex, although I can’t see on the website how you submit a bid. “Sealed bids must be submitted by 5pm BST on Wednesday 22nd May as the bids will be opened 23rd May 2013.”

    • IanVisits says:

      I didn’t expect people to have to go there in person – most auctions have online/telephone bidding anyway.

      It just seemed odd to sell off a load of Westminster heritage in a location other than in Westminster.

    • John B says:


      on the home page, look under the tab “buying and selling with us” for the link to “sealed bid auctions”…..

    • Jim says:

      Ian: Ah, my mistake; I misread you!

      John: Thanks for that. I am sorely tempted to put in a bid, but I know I don’t need one! I actually quite like the planning inquiry chamber one.

  3. Londonbus says:

    This started in 1994 – I should know because I worked in the office which designed them! They were put in by Acer Consultants (now Hyder Consulting) on the term contract held at the time. In many cases they’ve been superseded by Legible London.

Home >> News >> Miscellaneous