Sign #1, Highways Act 1980, Peckham Rye, Greater London


This is the first image in what will be an ongoing series dedicated to peculiar or otherwise arresting signage. This particular sign is at the end of a semi-covered alley passageway that takes you out to a side road, upon exiting Peckham Rye rail station in Greater London and immediately taking a right. Many people use this thoroughfare as its the way to certain bus connections. The other options, probably obviously, are to go straight ahead to the main road or to the left to another perpendicular side road. So, as you emerge onto the side street there is a very tall metal fence which you can see the top of in this photo. I’d say the tip of those spikes are at about the 8 foot mark which would mean the sign is about 9 feet up the wall. What I love about it is the combination of the ridiculous height at which it’s placed and the wonderful absurdity of the statement. It’s sort of like an anti-proclamation: both in its impractical location and the fact that it is essentially announcing the not-ness of something rather than the is-ness. It is not telling the accidental trespasser (who also happens to be quite tall) that s/he is forbidden from walking there, or faces some penalty for so doing, but has an air of resigned passivity about it. As there are no barriers to prevent access to the passageway, other than the suggestion of the open gate, it is obvious from a few minutes observation that everyone regards it as their right to use it as the plainly apparent short cut to the side road. And yet, for some reason, someone at the British Railways Board has seen to it that this statement be publicly displayed, albeit where few people will see it. It reminds me of running into an old boyfriend once who was carrying a bunch of flowers and said, most unnecessarily, “these aren’t for you, by the way”. Similiarly this sign is wimpy yet confrontational. It’s like that annoying narc kid in school who’d give you a look that said he knew you got away with it but he wanted you to know that he knew you did it anyway. I’m not sure why I looked up and noticed the sign but one thing was definite: nobody else paid a blind bit of difference.

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5 Responses to “Sign #1, Highways Act 1980, Peckham Rye, Greater London”

  1. Phil W Says:

    Is the word “dedicated” meant to mean something different in British English? To me, taking the word dedicated to mean “honoring of”, the sign means, “We could have dedicated this ‘way’ to the general public, but we didn’t. In fact we didn’t dedicate it to anyone, so there!”.

  2. Shemika Grosskreutz Says:

    Your site was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for more info on this just sa few days ago.

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    • 66witches Says:

      What were you seeking info on? The Highways Act 1980? I find that totally amazing and impossible to believe. You are either pulling my leg or writing the most esoteric dissertation in the history of academia. Or else you are an advertising ‘bot.
      I’m so pleased you wrote Shemika.
      ;-)What sorts of franchises are you selling, by the way? I realize I could probably find out if I clicked on the blue text at the bottom of your reply, but I have an instinctive feeling that such would be a hazardous course of action.
      Shemika?
      Shemika?
      Won’t you say something back….

  3. hisnibbshisnibbs Says:

    This is to prevent access rights being eroded over time. If a right is not asserted then it may be eroded over time if the owner has not asserted their right. Thus if the sign was not there then after X years (can’t remember from memory) then the right of way exists and thus planning permissions and other legal issues then come into effect. Effectively the sign says “We retain the right to prevent anyone walking on our land at any time and it doesn’t matter how long this access is open to the public it does not become a public right of way through usage.”

    They might aad “So there” on the end…

    • 66witches Says:

      THANK YOU SO MUCH! You are clearly even more obsessed with obscure facts than yours truly at which I am both deeply grateful and astonished. I loved your explanation and also just the very idea that if you don’t let people know about a certain rule for a while then it just gets invalidated. Excellent work hisnibbs!

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