Gateway sign points to historic town’s warm welcome and bright future

By Lancashire Business View

04 Aug 2017

The rich and diverse history of Blackburn has been captured in a vibrant new gateway sign to the town created by a team of experts from a Lancashire company.

Signs Express (Central Lancashire) has designed, created and installed the striking 140 metre-long wall sign at Larkhill, on one of the main routes into the town. And it has done it all free of charge to support the local community.

From the arrival of the Romans and the Middle Ages to today’s bustling modern town, the sign greets visitors and charts the significant milestones in Blackburn history. Delighted council chiefs say the new sign also points to its exciting future.

Preston-based Signs Express created the 2.5 metre high sign at its design and manufacturing operation at Rough Hey on the outskirts of the city.

Signs Express has worked closely with Blackburn with Darwen Council on the Whalley New Road project after approaching the local authority with its idea for the concept.

The project has not cost the council any financial outlay. Signs Express has donated the sign to the town for a three year period in return for a mention on the wall.

Signs Express director Ben Hall said: “As a Lancashire-based company we are proud to support community initiatives like this.

“Our design team has carried out all the research and working with our production unit has created a striking visual montage that delivers a strong message about Blackburn’s past, as well as its future direction.”

“We believe this work will point visitors to all that Blackburn has to offer them, through its many proud achievements, past and present. It’s both a welcome and a statement.

“When people think of a sign company they don’t always realise the wide range of work we do. It’s a lot more than exit and entrance signs, and this is a classic example.

“Every person probably sees 400 signs or graphics every day as they go about their lives. For instance, vehicles we have put graphics on can be seen by 3,000 people an hour on a busy road and that’s a great form of advertising.”

The Blackburn gateway sign tells the story of the community, marking the many significant events that have taken place along the way.

They include the town becoming the ‘weaving capital of the world’ in first half of the 18th century when its population swelled from 5,000 to over 130,000 and later on the establishment of Thwaites’ brewery in 1807.

The creation of Blackburn Rovers in 1875 is featured as is 1967, which saw a name check from The Beatles who sang about ‘4,000 holes’ which were set to ‘fill the Albert Hall’.

The sign concludes with today’s multi-million pound regeneration programme of Blackburn, including the new bus station dubbed ‘the Harrods of bus stations’.

Councillor Phil Riley, executive member for Regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “This signage is part of the continuing efforts to welcome visitors to the town and to show that Blackburn is changing.

“It illustrates the town’s long and varied history and points to the exciting future.”

Signs Express (Central Lancashire) is working on projects ranging from construction to health and education and employs a 15-strong workforce.

The company designs, produces and installs a full range of signage for its growing client base and is owned and run by father and son team Stephen and Ben Hall, from Grimsargh.

Signs Express’ growing client list has seen annual turnover grow above £800,000. Today the business delivers signage for large-scale construction and regeneration projects across the North West being carried out by big-name regional builders including Conlon Construction, Warden Construction and Eric Wright.

Its clients also include hospital trusts, schools and colleges across Lancashire; local authorities, universities and manufacturers.

As well as external and internal signs, the company also creates vehicle and window graphics and has seen a growing demand for its bespoke digital wallpaper. All its work, from design to manufacture, is carried out ‘in house’.

Ben, who runs the business with his father Stephen, said: “Our design department uses the latest software to create powerful messages. We pride ourselves that we are more than just a sign company.

“We’ve got graphics and fabrication workshops that are also equipped with the latest technology. It means we can produce all aspects of sign work, including illuminated, tactile and braille signs.

“It’s a very competitive market out there, but the advantage we have is being able to take on work of all sizes and to successfully project manage them. “Much of our work is also about bringing brands to life. External signs are designed to drive customers to our clients’ businesses. And we’re finding a growing demand for digital wallpaper which can give an office or building a real ‘wow’ factor.”

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