Devon has a very comprehensive road network, and with nearly 10,000 miles of roads, has more miles of tarmac than any other UK county. Most of these roads are narrow, winding country lanes that criss-cross their way across Ambrosia country, providing useful links between towns and villages. However, the dense network of roads and lanes caused a bit of a headache for Devon County Council, as many lanes were only suited to light vehicles, or even farm access and livestock only.
In order to overcome this problem, the Council developed a category system for the road network that was introduced in the late 1980s (with Department for Transport approval), that would allow them to better allocate their road maintenance budget. Alongside this classification scheme, a new signposting system was introduced that would give road users a quick way of identifying the type of road they would be about to use, and if it would be suitable for their vehicle.
However, the main publicity for the scheme was published in 1992, when a leaflet was produced to promote the network and signage system; information boards were also installed at various points across the county. This was done to help inform visitors unfamiliar to the area that they could be directed through the use of colour coding of signs.
The signage designs
The main basis behind the signage system would be through the colour coding used. The idea behind the system would be that motorists would follow signs for higher graded routes, only using the lower graded routes once the final destination is neared.
A sign with a blue border and chevron indicates that the road is ideal for most traffic, although some roads may be unsuitable for larger vehicles. These routes generally tend to be the highest standard of unclassified road, and are usually fairly wide (often two lanes wide).
|A sign with a brown border and chevron indicates that the road is ideal for smaller vehicles, namely cars, vans and small buses. These roads tend to be fairly narrow lanes. On some of the more recently installed signs, the coloured chevrons have been replaced with standard black chevrons, even though the coloured border remains the same.|
|A sign with a no border and a black or black-outlined chevron indicates that the road is a narrow lane that will lead to a local destination, often a small hamlet or farm. These are generally unsuitable for anything bigger than a car or small van and tend to be very narrow and twisty.|
|Major through routes, namely motorways, primary routes and A or B roads, are signed in the normal manner, as are tourist attractions. Some signs feature destinations in coloured-bordered panels, which indicate that a destination can be reached by taking a lower graded route (in the same way as a road number shown in brackets).|
Older finger posts remain in some locations, particularly where there is historical significance or due to other local interest. In other areas, the older fingers have been removed and replaced with the newer styled border signs (as shown in the top photograph), with the older fingers left in place where a borderless sign would be used on newer installations.
The posts used on these signs all feature a pyramid at the top which features the old Devon County Council logo. In addition, the place name is displayed a plate sited on the post beneath the fingers.
The Devon road network
When the new road classification system was introduced in 1992, Devon County Council produced this map to highlight the status of roads across the county. The Local Distributors are those roads signed with blue-bordered signs, whilst the Collector Roads are routes with brown-bordered signs.
|Devon road network map|
|PDF document (225 Kb)|
Even though the signing for the scheme has been maintained in accordance with the original plans, in recent years the scheme has not been promoted. However, with media stories of how satellite navigation systems have caused routing problems for HGVs, the Traffic Policy Team at Devon County Council plans revisit the scheme and promote it once again, particularly targeting HGVs and other large or towing vehicles.
The promotion will see information added to the roadside information boards located in 29 strategic positions around the county's road network, as well as liaising with with the county's Freight Quality Partnership.
Photos by Derek Harper, Stephen McKay, Jonathan Billinger and Lewis Clarke and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.