As part of its continuing £6 million Theatreland Strategy (See News, 4 Jul 2008), the Council is replacing more than 90 of the West End’s famous street signs, including those along Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square, with the first 30 on sale from this afternoon. Reserve prices are set at £100, but signs of the most popular addresses - already often featured on postcards, t-shirts and other tourist items – are expected to fetch much higher prices.
Cllr Alan Bradley, lead member for Theatreland, said: “This is a rare opportunity for people to own a piece of Theatreland history. This is the first time we’ve ever put our street signs on an auction site like this and we are anticipating a huge amount of interest.”
The council hopes to raise up to £10,000 by selling all 90 signs, which have been up for more than ten years. All the signs feature Westminster’s traditional black and red capital lettering, which was created by designer Sir Misha Black in 1967. The font, a sans serif typeface, is unique to Westminster's street signs and is copyright protected. The old signs include a black band at the top with an inset picture of two traditional Pierrot-type clowns.
The council’s new signs, which have already gone up around the West End, are designed design to create a more distinct character for the Theatreland district. They feature a bright red band above the lettering and an image of the comedy and tragedy masks.
All proceeds from the sale of the old enamelled steel signs will be ploughed back into further Theatreland improvements in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics. Work has already taken place along Shaftesbury Avenue to widen footpaths and repave them in traditional York stone with alternating black and white sparkly granite outside theatres. New street lights, comprising traditional Grey Wornum lanterns, with strips of coloured lights running down the columns, will be officially switched on in the next few weeks.
Of the 40 commercial theatres in London’s West End, 30 are located in Westminster (the remainder are in Camden). The first batch of 30 Westminster street locations auctioned on ebay, some with multiple copies available (there are five for Shaftesbury Avenue), are: Aldwych, Cambridge Circus, Charing Cross Road, Coventry Street, Cranbourn Street, Haymarket, Leicester Court, Leicester Place, Leicester Square, St Martin’s Lane, Shaftesbury Avenue, Strand and Swiss Court.
To bid, search for "Westminster street sign" at www.ebay.co.uk.