Canberra Times 8 September 2016

It’s the little things that can make up the social fabric of a city such as Canberra.

So it is with the concrete pillar signposts that were installed in early Canberra, with embossed aluminium street names on their four sides.

 

Barton resident Ian Morison with one of the historic concrete pillar signposts in Darling Street, Barton.
Barton resident Ian Morison with one of the historic concrete pillar signposts in Darling Street, Barton. Photo: Megan Doherty

 

They were designed to be pedestrian-friendly – hence their height – and were part of the Federal Capital Commission’s “comprehensive approach” to the design of residential streetscapes in the national capital.

Only a handful of the signposts remain in Canberra’s older suburbs, their lettering faded, their pebbled covers crumbling and their exterior home to moss and lichen.

 

A concrete pillar signpost on the corner of Belmore Gardens and Darling Street in Barton. The pillars are to be restored.
A concrete pillar signpost on the corner of Belmore Gardens and Darling Street in Barton. The pillars are to be restored. Photo: Megan Doherty

 

The latest round of heritage grants from the ACT Government will enable work to start on the restoration of Barton’s concrete pillar signposts.

Kingston and Barton Residents Group committee member Ian Morison led survey work to determine those pillars in need of help first.

At 85, he is as old as the pillars, which started to be installed in 1931. However, their installation was short-lived.

Mr Morison said by 1935 the concrete pillars were consigned to history, as motorists wanted taller concrete posts with cross-arms because they were easier to read.

He believed there were only about seven of the concrete pillar signposts left in Barton.

Mr Morison said in a way the signposts were a failure, or, more generously, a quirk of history, but one which still helped tell the story of Canberra.

“They are a relic of a time when there was a unifying element in the way houses and streets were arranged,” he said.

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