Case study: Tynings Historic Finger Post

Restoration of an historic cast iron sign post

Cast iron signpost that had been hit resulting in a section of cast iron being missing around the detailing and the column being broken in to two pieces.

The column was blast cleaned and a two pack epoxy paint system applied. The column was sleeved with a suitable sized tube which was drilled and tapped to the main casting. Two halves were re assembled and an epoxy grout poured in between the tube and cast iron to help stabilise and fix all elements together.

Finally, missing detail was re produced using a combination of new iron sections and filling.

Fingerpost History

Finger posts came to fruition in the 1740’s when turnpike trusts were encouraged to mark every mile. By 1766, this was made obligatory to aid stagecoach and mail facilities keep time and in 1773 The General Turnpike Act was decreed requiring signs be erected to inform travellers of the distance to the nearby town.

Whilst some elements of finger post design were prescribed dependent on the period they were installed, local authorities had considerable scope for individuality in their design leading to a rich historical context of finger post design.

Although most finger posts are a combination of black, white or grey, other colour variants exist, particularly in Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, where finger-posts are red with white lettering. Though the reasoning behind this is not known, theorists suggest the colour variation was used to mark out a route specifically for transporting prisoners on their way to deportation to Australia.

Asides from colour, form varies greatly between counties with some bearing finials, discs, balls and pyramid shapes marked with county names. 

With increased road use, and the 1933 traffic sign system seeming outdated, a new system was put in place in 1961 resulting in the 1964 Traffic Sign Regulations. Local authorities were encouraged to take away the remaining traditional finger posts – contributing to their rarity today.

Now a cherished characteristic of the English countryside, finger posts are threatened by neglect and deterioration with age, often in desperate need of repair and restoration. The oldest standing finger post is in the Cotswolds dating from 1699.

A new regime of preservation of these pieces of British Heritage is underway being pushed through by the English Heritage. 

Related Projects:

Bronze War Memorial Conservation, Portsmouth Cenotaph

Cast Iron Clock Face Repairs, UWE Bristol
Covent Gardens Replica Cast Iron Coin Commission
Edney Iron Swordrest Repairs, Bristol
Restoration of a Grasshopper Weather Vane Made from Guilded Copper, The Royal Exchange
Timber and Iron Conservatory Restoration at Knightshayes Court in Devon


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