AÂ sign showing kilometresÂ on the route of the firstÂ ‘London’ marathon had itsÂ anniversary this week. For a century, it has pointed the way forÂ anyoneÂ trying to retraceÂ the steps of the original runnersÂ towards the finishing lineÂ at White City in London, where the 1908 Olympic Games were held.
Please follow this link for a photo of what could be the UK’s oldest metricÂ distance sign.
It has to be admitted that this sign shows its mile value more predominantly, and “KILOs” is notÂ theÂ modern symbol for distance, but this little piece of history is 100 years old this week! The British and IrishÂ Parliament had agreedÂ some time beforeÂ the 1908 Games that metric measures could be adopted for all purposes. ButÂ Metric Views believes that this Edwardian marathon marker is the oldest surviving sign in BritainÂ showing kilometres.
Clearly, the organisers of the 1908 London Games had to face up to the issue of measurement systems – whether to use internationalÂ or Imperial measures. It does seem rather extraordinary that, more thanÂ a century on, those organisingÂ the 2012 London GamesÂ still haveÂ a problemÂ with signage.
ThisÂ antique also shows that a sign of historical significance can be retained as an interesting local feature long afterÂ its practical life is over; modernising our road signsÂ does not mean the end for genuinely historic posts and signs dotted throughout the UK.Â Let’s just hope that, as this historic marker enters its second century, it stays untouched by those who now object toÂ the use of internationally acceptedÂ unitsÂ onÂ road signs in Britain.