Gill Sans on the British Railways trains.

Published by Fourthbus on

As you might suspect when you are creating a retrospective railway signage using Gill Sans, why would the British Railways (BR) signage looks so different from the one you’ve made, so much more elegant. The typeface on it feels like Gill Sans, also doesn’t look identical to the Gill Sans you’ve used.

They are different. As Robert Tarling noticed here (also picture below) about a decade ago. However, technically, it’s Gill Sans, but a different version.

Gill Sans and British Railways.

As I tried to dig out more about this special version of Gill Sans, it becomes clearer it quite likely originates from the large-print wood letterpress.

I will talk a bit more about this terious research when the time goes along…

Annoyingly, nobody has ever attempted to digitise the titling sized Gill Sans. This is rather irritating for my OCD, and I decided to embark on this project on digitising this marvellous typeface.

I aimed to complete capital letters and numbers on both ‘Light’ and ‘Medium’ weights as the first phase of this project. This part is rather straightforward as Mike Ashworth has posted BR Sign Standard on Flickr. The design job is more like using tracing paper on Glyphs.

British Railways Standard Signs Manual - 1948
A sample of the current completed type.