In the early days of motoring it was a motoring association who put up signs for the benefit of drivers. The Automobile Association, founded in 1905 as the Motorists’ Mutual Association, began erecting village signs (as local councils didn’t consider this their responsibility), followed by all sorts of direction and warning signs. A few of these survive. When responsibility for these was given to local authorities in 1939, they had erected over 30,00 village signs.

These round yellow signs, put high up on a building in the town or village centre, told you where you were, with distances to neighbouring towns or villages, and also to London. More of these survive, and some are now in local museums. The one illustrated below is in Bainton in the East Riding – erected, it says, by the AA & MU. This is presumably not the Mothers’ Union, but the Motorists’ Union, an association which merged with the AA in 1910 – so this sign must date from very early in the 20th century. At the top of the page is a very faded sign in nearby North Dalton.


RWH/June 2020