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Veterans produce commemorative sign in Design Museum’s 30th year

06 September 2019
The commemorative road sign for Margaret Calvert OBE
The commemorative road sign for Margaret Calvert OBE


Injured veterans at Royal British Legion Industries have joined forces with Buchanan Computing to produce a commemorative road sign for Margaret Calvert OBE, a pioneer behind the UK’s road signage system. 

Graphic designer Margaret Calvert was a leading member of the team commissioned to redesign the road sign system in 1960s, creating many of the iconic symbols still used to this day including ‘men at work’, ‘children’ and ‘cattle.’ 

Veterans working in RBLI’s social enterprise, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (BBMC), have produced an artistic take on the original 30 speed limit sign for London’s Design Museum for its 30th anniversary. Margaret Calvert said: “I wasn’t sure if the combination of reflective materials would have the effect I was after, but thanks to the technical input of Buchanan Computing, and workmanship of RBLI, I was both surprised and delighted with the result.”

Buchanan Computing is a supplier of software and training for traffic professionals with over 25 years’ experience in computer mapping, design and data management for the highway. Its range of products for highway and traffic engineers and the police includes SignPlot, Park Map and AccsMap.

Simon Morgan, chairman of Buchanan Computing, said: “We were delighted to be helping both Margaret and the Design Museum again.  Last year, we updated the miniature ‘children’ traffic sign on their ‘crowd-sourced’ wall.  

“On both occasions the sign was designed in our SignPlot software. This time, we took a standard 30 sign, closed the digits up slightly in accordance with Margaret’s wishes, added the unusual colours, and exported it into an accurate EPS file for RBLI, themselves an active SignPlot user, to digitally print onto reflective material.”

BBMC employs more than 100 people, 70% of whom are veterans, have a disability, or both. A team of Gurkhas make up part of the Kent-based factory’s signs department, producing signage for Network Rail and Highways England. 

Established in 1919, RBLI and its social enterprise celebrates 100 years of providing support to injured veterans and people with disabilities. 

Kate Bull, director of BBMC, said: “It has been a real pleasure to join forces with both Buchanan Computing and Margaret in what is a special year for ourselves and the Design Museum. The veterans working in our signs department were incredibly proud to turn their hands to create such an iconic road sign for the mastermind behind the huge array of signs they produce for British roads on a daily basis.”

The UK’s current system of traffic signs came into effect on 1 January 1965, following the Anderson Report and the Worboys Report of 1961-63. The graphic designers employed for both were Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert.  The system produced was based upon scientific principles, as well as demonstrating great design flair. Over 50 years on, remains the basis for UK road signs for the foreseeable future. 

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