23 February 2019

Barry Island sign

I’m a sucker for a good sign and this one, alongside the main road link to Barry Island, is a cracker!

Until the 1890s, Barry Island really was an island, with access restricted to Shanks’s pony at low tide and a ride on a ferry when the water levels got too high. In the 1880s, docks had been built at Barry to export Wales’s coal to the world and, to help expedite those exports, in 1896, a railway link was constructed via a long causeway. Barry Island has ever after been firmly attached to the mainland.

These days, Barry Island – Ynys Barri, in Welsh – is known not for its docks and exports but rather for its family friendly fairground-type attractions, fish and chip shops, amusement arcades, its apparently thrilling rides – the quintessential British seaside resort. The sign, then, is the perfect pictorial advertisement for the pleasures of an island visit.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to discover anything about the sign itself so can’t credit the artist or maker. It’s wonderfully done – the expression on the man’s face, the boot that is his catch, the fish lurking under the waves, the complete relaxation of the woman’s posture, the skinny face-masked kid clinging to the side of the boat (or is it a bath tub?), and, of course, the ubiquitous gull. It always makes me smile, and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a better place sign.

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