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History and Queen Victoria

See our video montage http://www.throwersigns.co.uk/movie.html

It is good to see that some people are taking an interest in the content of this blog and I thank you for your comments. Today I thought I would link one or two recent jobs with a bit of history.  For those who may be interested in traditional signwriting I thought I should first attach a couple of photographs of my Dad working.

Here he is signwriting a fascia panel. I should imagine that this is early 1950’s. Of course in those days very few photographs were kept of jobs or the work in progress. We forget in these days of instant images saved to phones and digital cameras that had the premises owners not been photographers by trade that this picture would not exist. I wonder what happened to the archive of photographs taken by Ron Francis?

Allen Thrower Signwriting

Signwriting was not Allen’s first choice. He would like to have become a teacher but illness at school prevented that. He would have been an apprentice at RAE Farnborough, but he was marginally too far down the list for that year’s intake. His brother Norman was apprenticed at the signwriting firm of Giles in Wokingham, Norman’s apprenticeship was broken somewhat fortuitously by WW2 and via the Survey of India and further hard work in the US, he eventually ended up in Los Angeles as an Emeritus Professor of Cartography at U.C.L.A. (Dr Norman J.W. Thrower, with many books to his name). Allen duly followed to Giles as an apprentice and after time spent in Canada and Singapore during the war, ended up signwriting back in the UK. Anyone who knows the village of Crowthorne in Berkshire will know of its symbiotic link with three major institutions, most recently the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), which in my youth was know as TRRL or Road Research Laboratory and more historically the somewhat formidable (to strangers) Broadmoor Hospital and Wellington College.

Gilded Clock at Wellington College
Gilded Clock at Wellington College

Allen must have started signwriting Honours Boards, Signs and Vehicles at Wellington around about 1946, a task which we are proud to continue to this day. When we signwrite a name on a board we do not know what the future may hold for that individual, although some may already have made a particular contribution by that point which indicates that they will have a great future, or their name by birth may already be linked to a great household, literary, scientific, artistic or sporting icon.  

The College can be a magnet to particular individuals and when Allen wrote C. M. St. G. Potter onto the boards he knew that his father was a Master, but could not know that now (having taught at Wellington) Mr. Potter would be Secretary of the Old Wellingtonians Society (O.W.’s or as I heard recent pupils describe it “O-Dubz”) . One of the last names Allen painted onto the oak panelling of the Cricket Pavilion (Pink Pavilion) before he passed away in 1976 was R.I.H.B. Dyer which I repeated on various boards. Mr. Dyer is currently Second Master at Wellington College. Some of the names we add may be members of Royal Families, but there are few opportunities to create a list starting with Queen Victoria, followed by Prince Albert and then The Earl of Deby and other illustrious characters, such as can be seen on the Benefactors board at Wellington by the Porters Lodge.

Benefactors board with gold leaf lettering

A link with this board is the other place where I am able to create Queen Victoria’s crest at regular intervals, which is at Queen’s College in Harley Street. This is painted onto the portico several times along with the name of the College, numerals and other text. I have done this periodically in a very dark green, but this has just recently been re-done with a hint of blue as a dark teal colour.

Signwriting to Portico at Harley Street

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