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Stoke Newington historian surveys old street signs and calls for them to be protected

PUBLISHED: 09:57 09 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:20 09 September 2019

The oldest street sign in the borough. Picture: Amir Dotan

The oldest street sign in the borough. Picture: Amir Dotan

Archant

A Stoke Newington historian who became fascinated by the vintage street signs for the old metropolitan borough has carried out a survey to document them all.

A sign at the junction of Blackstock Road and Somerfield Road. Picture: Amir DotanA sign at the junction of Blackstock Road and Somerfield Road. Picture: Amir Dotan

Amir Dotan, who says he's interested in "pretty much anything to do with Stoke Newington's past" discovered there were 17 of the old signs left, in three different styles and in varying condition.

"They are an echo from the past and I was curious to know how many are still around and also where were they located," said Amir, who says the survey took him about three hours.

"Two have been restored recently, but the majority are worn-out and would benefit greatly from being repainted.

"As they are metallic plates, they are still in very good condition in most cases.

A sign at the junction of Newington Green and Albion Road. Picture: Amir DotanA sign at the junction of Newington Green and Albion Road. Picture: Amir Dotan

"In recent years unfortunately several such signs were removed by the council and replaced with modern signs or stolen. It's a shame the old ones were not repainted or at least given to Hackney Museum."

The oldest sign, Amir believes, is the one on the corner of the high street and Church Street.

He continued: "It's visible in a photo from 1905 and also has the street's original name - High Street - before it was renamed Stoke Newington High Street in 1937.

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"All the other signs include the N16 postcode, which was created in 1917."

The most obscure sign is the one on the corner of Green Lanes and Seven Sisters Road.

"I must have walked pass it many times, but it was only when I noticed a photo of it someone took a few years ago and realised I didn't know where it was that I started investigating in Google Street View," said Amir.

"The sign is pretty much black now and as a result blends in the environment to extent it looks almost camouflaged."

The sign in Slindon Court off Stoke Newington High Street. Picture: Amir DotanThe sign in Slindon Court off Stoke Newington High Street. Picture: Amir Dotan

Amir discovered that five signs have "Borough of Stoke Newington" written in an old font, 11 are written in standard font and the oldest one has a different style to all others.

Two signs were restored in recent years, but once they are replaced by the council they are understood to be destroyed.

Amir believes that is a great shame and wants them to be preserved.

He said: "It's these kind of historically significant remnants in the built environment, that can easily go unnoticed by most people and when they are removed there's often no evidence they were ever there.

Amir's survey map.Amir's survey map.

"Stoke Newingtonians historically had a great sense of municipal pride when it was a small parish and later a metropolitan borough.

"These old, disappearing street signs are evidence and a somewhat visible reminder of Stoke Newington's history. They should be recognised as artefacts of historical significance and be protected."

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