LOOK BACK IN TIME: 19th April 1856

The Isle of Wight Observer published on 19th April, 1856 talked about worries that the Isle of Wight might be lost altogether due to landslips. Concerns about the design and siting of street signs may have been less dramatic but were expressed very forcefully.

LANDSLIP. – A landslip took place at Cliff End, near the new Fortifications, on Saturday last, of a very extensive character. The cliffs from Sconce point to the Needles, on the west coast of the Isle of Wight, are in a most dangerous state, and it is estimated by many of the scientific that in course of time the beauties of our romantic isle, so much renowned for its splendid scenery as to win the title of the “Garden of England,” will entirely vanish under the surface of the great and destructive element which flows around it.

NAMING OF THE STREETS.- The most indignant complaints have reached us relating to the Comissioners fixing upon houses of large black plates upon which the names of streets are written in small white letters, so that the black bears proportion of 3 to 1 to the white. Some liken the shape and appearance of the plates unto breast plates, but for our parts we think the designer chose for his model the outline of a crab-shell; indeed, they combine the greatest amount of ugliness with the least possible utility. Some householders have already stripped them off, as they are, to make matters worse, fixed over the entrance doors or between the dining and drawing room windows, without leave or licence. It is of greatest utility that the names of streets should be legibly written, but why was not some one whose business is amongst “black and white” consulted as to shape of letter and proportion of each color for appearance and utility?


To the Editor of the Isle of Wight Observer.

Sir, – The Commissioners lately invaded my shrubbery without a shadow of notice and nailed upon my house two hideous looking plates, for which they are clearly liable to action. If they do not remove them, I shall; for I will not suffer them to disfigure my house. Why, in the name of Common Sense, could they not have put arms on the lamp posts, to indicate the streets? Such an obvious plan, however, would have too much utility and cheapness to it, without being offensive to individuals, to recommend itself to the Chairman of the Highway Comittee, who will ride his own hobby-horse at whatever cost.