Any Old Iron - Fingerposts and Foundries in Cumbria
Jackie Huck

    Tebay & Orton History Society held their February Meeting last Thursday, when Chairman Bernard Thornborrow, welcomed everyone. Speakers for the evening  were Mike and Kate Lea, who showed slides and spoke on ‘Any Old Iron’ old signs in Cumbria.  They have made a study of the many old signs still around, and talked about their origins and different types. They discovered early in their research, that the old Westmorland signs each had a number, and they have enjoyed tracking down the ones with numbers which still exist.

Unrestored Post at Raisbeck
In our area number 1 is at Newbiggin, 3 in Raisbeck and Greenholme has number 6. The original signs had finials on the top, some still have them but many have been lost, also some have been restored. The highest number they have found is 47.

They looked back at old photographs, paintings and drawings showing how the signs changed over the years, and talked about the development of signs back to 1697 when there were signs at crossroads.

Major changes took place between 1888 and 1919, with the development of County and District Councils and the coming of the motor car. Further change took place afterwards when signs had to follow guidelines laid down by the MOT, and road numbers were introduced to the signs.

    They also spoke about 12 interesting signs with crowns on the top, which are found in the Shap, Lowther and Meaburn areas. The origin of these crowned signs is not clear, but it is believed to relate to the visits of Kaiser Wilhelm to Lowther Castle in 1895 and 1902, and the Coronation of King Edward VII.

It was noted that signs were removed during the second world war, most were replaced, but some were lost at that time.

The Chairman thanked Mr & Mrs. Lea for a very informative talk

Restored Post near Sunbiggin Tarn

Foundry Mark