Station Name Signs – Running-In Boards
We have a couple of very local ones!
Stations have displayed signs showing their name since railways began – the very earliest being hand-painted, often in extravagant lettering and colours. However, since the required a sign-writer to paint them each time the colours faded – and colours tended to fade fairly often – they were gradually replaced by vitreous enamel signs, usually with a blue background and white letters, held in a wooden frame.
Some railways continued to use the enamel signs throughout their existence, while others opted for wooden boards to which cast iron or lead alloy letters were screwed. The advantage of boards was that they could be easily lettered up by a relatively unskilled painter. They were also easier to see at night.
Known officially as running-in boards, they were located at the ends of platforms. At junctions, they usually included information about connecting lines.
Once a train had come to a halt, a porter was supposed to shout out the station name. Even so, there were still passengers who missed their stop. It was to ease this problem that enamel name tablets were placed inside the glasses of platform lamps, and small nameboards, or target signs, were suspended from walls, fences, or lamp posts along the platform.
The target signs were often enamel – especially on the Southern Railway (SR). The London Midland & Scottish (LMS), by contrast, used a cast-aluminium alloy design finished in reflective yellow paint with black letters. With nationalisation, British Railways introduced the familiar totem sign in regional colours, and produced them in very large numbers.