A good sign

SIR, — Dr Samuel Johnson may have been a little pompous but he surely had a point when, in1776, he observed that: There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn. The owners gave the

SIR, - Dr Samuel Johnson may have been a little pompous but he surely had a point when, in1776, he observed that: "There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn."

The owners gave their hostelries names and announced their presence to passers-by with a fine, large, well-painted sign - a portrait (King William IV), or a coat of arms (The Verulam Arms), etc. The subjects are endless.

These signs are a joy, a pleasure to look at by contrast with the dross of traffic signs, estate agents' boards and the like that clutter our streets.

But recently some really delightful pub signs have been removed and replaced with characterless, indeed cheerless, boards with the name spelled out in block letters. It must have cost good money to do it and why, for goodness sake?


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Among the victims are the Blue Anchor in Fishpool Street, the Peahen and the Beehive. It really is not a good idea.

One of the most depressing examples was the Farmers Boy in London Road, where, not too long ago, the colourful painting of a farmer's boy was replaced by a matt soot-black board with T.F.B. in large, unbeautiful, capital letters in battleship grey painted on it. If any street in the city needs cheering up it's London Road and this sad sign certainly didn't help.

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But rejoice! The jolly little farmer's boy has returned - wearing braces and a smile. I popped in the other day for a celebratory beer and to congratulate and thank the welcoming landlady, Rose. I was lucky too to meet the happy little boy who was the model for the painting. He was in there with his dad.

We can only hope that other landlords in the city will realise that their inn signs play a very important part in the appearance of our street and mend their ways.

DENNIS OWEN,

President, St Albans Art Society,

Fishpool Street, St Albans.

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