Soundwalk 5: the meta data

What do the RAF Base at Benson, my Type Trumps birdthay present from Mark, and the designs I have been working on for my Soundwalk have in common?

Type Trumps 2: image held here, and game available to buy here.

The answer is, the Transport font by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert. You can read about it here.

Joe Moran’s highly recommended book On Roads describes how in 1960, volunteers assembled at the RAF Base in Benson (just off the A4074) for an experiment to test the legibility of a rival font by David Kindersley. The experiment involved push-buttons, a moving chart reader, and a Vauxhall Wyvern driving at speed with Kindersley’s road signs strapped to its roof. Volunteers pressed their buttons when the signs became legible to them, but the difference in legibility between Kindersley’s font and Calvert and Kinneirs’* was deemed ‘statistically insignificant’ and although Kindersley’s capitalised typeface – MoT Serif – proved to be marginally more readable, Transport was ultimately the font which won out. Through its duplication and repetition all around the UK, it has become an enduring signifier and symbol for roads.

It is for this reason that I am using it in all the artwork/publicity/printed works relating to my explorations around the A4074.

So now you know: the typeface that has been used on road signs all across the British Isles was once the subject of a design debate, part of which involved an experiment conducted just off the A4074. And that is how my birthday present from Mark, the RAF Base at Benson, and the screenprinting** I have been doing this week, are linked.

*is this apostrophe abuse?

**epic FAIL on the screenprinting front this week; one of my designs is back to front and so I will need to strip and re-expose the screen.

3 Responses to Soundwalk 5: the meta data

  1. Liz T. says:

    My guess would be “Calvert and Kinneir’s” (as there’s only one Kinneir) but I usually tend to duck these kind of issues by rephrasing, e.g. “between Kindersley’s font and that of Calvert and Kinneir”.

    Hope the reprinting doesn’t take too long!

  2. Lara says:

    Type trumps are ace, both type geeks in my life have throughly loved them. Will forward this post on to Mr John as I know he will be fascinated by it. He has gifted to me knowledge of road sign type after watching endless/ countless programmes about how it was created Lx

  3. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Archive » The meta data

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