This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.
We don't have any photos of this building yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?
Latitude: 55.9563 / 55°57'22"N
Longitude: -3.215 / 3°12'53"W
OS Eastings: 324236
OS Northings: 674367
OS Grid: NT242743
Mapcode National: GBR 8JD.89
Mapcode Global: WH6SL.LK85
Plus Code: 9C7RXQ4P+G2
Entry Name: Scottish Automobile Club Sign, corner of Lennox Street and Oxford Terrace, Edinburgh
Listing Name: Scottish Automobile Club Sign, on the corner of Lennox Street and Oxford Terrace, Edinburgh
Listing Date: 24 March 2021
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 407408
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52580
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Inverleith
Traditional County: Midlothian
The Scottish Automobile Club was founded in 1899 to promote automobilism in Scotland. Founder members included William Douglas Weir, 1st Viscount Weir. The club motto was 'Gang Warily' and the organisation promoted the responsibility of automobile ownership, as well as the benefits gained by motoring and touring to Scotland's economy. Membership of the club grew steadily, and in 1912 numbered 1,826 members, ranging from car owners to chauffeurs.
In the early 20th century regulations for road safety and management were starting to be established. Responsibility for road signage passed to highway authorities in 1903 and the 1909 Roads Development and Improvement Funds Act saw the beginning of standardisation for road signs. However, no guidelines were issued until 1921.
The Scottish Automobile Club erected their own signs from around 1900. The design of this sign indicates that it was produced before 1917 when the club became known as the Royal Scottish Automobile Club.
The sign, which sits on a tall pole, is characteristic of the Scottish Automobile Club's designs for the period prior to 1917 and prominently displays the organisation's crest. Holes in the pole indicate that it likely also had other attached signs which informed motorists of upcoming hazards or used for directions. The Scottish Automobile Club's signs were painted red, with lettering in white and black however the original paintwork has now faded. Although mass produced, it is of good quality cast iron construction which was also typical of road signs at the time. The lack of secondary signage and the loss of original paint has not adversely affected the sign's design interest.
The sign is located in the New Town Conservation Area. This is likely to be the original location, installed on a sharp bend in the road in a residential part of Edinburgh's New Town. It was common for affluent urban areas to be early adopters of 'automobilism', prompting the need for road safety signage in this particular part of Edinburgh.
Age and rarity
The Scottish Automobile Club erected their own signs from around 1910. The design of the sign indicates that it was produced before 1917 when the club became known as the Royal Scottish Automobile Club. This Scottish Automobile Club Sign is an early example of a road sign in Scotland erected in the early years of car ownership and motoring.
It is also an extremely rare survival of a road sign as not many examples from this era have remained in their original roadside location due to changing regulations. The website flickr shows a number of Scottish Automobile Club signs still in situ in 1975, but it is likely that very few still survive (2020). At present we do not know of another surviving Scottish Automobile Club sign at a roadside location.
Social historical interest
The survival of this early road sign is of significant social interest for what it shows about motoring, road safety and car ownership in the early 20th century. The Scottish Automobile Club thrived in the decades following its founding in 1899, becoming the Royal Scottish Automobile Club in 1917 and taking up substantial and elegant headquarters on Blythswood Square (listed at category B, LB32976) in Glasgow in 1926.
Membership was broad, ranging from car owners to chauffeurs. The club creed was 'Gang Warily' and it promoted social responsibility and expounded the benefits gained by motoring and touring to Scotland's economy through tourism and business.
Other nearby listed buildings