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Home > Pub signs are being wiped out

A failure to protect the signs will see the "catastrophic" loss of a much-loved feature of British cultural life and of the skills used for their production, they say.

Members of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings have blamed the decline on the diminishing number of traditional pubs and the proliferation of chain bars including JD Wetherspoon and All Bar One, which use standardised signs.

Earlier this year, the Campaign for Real Ale found that each month 57 pubs close permanently.

Writing in the Society‘s magazine, Tim Minogue said: "Like the pub, the inn sign is classless and central to British culture.

"And like the pub, it is acutely vulnerable. Inn signs vary wildly in artistic merit, have no official status or protection, are constantly exposed to the elements and are at risk of theft and vandalism."

Only Britain‘s 30 independent pub groups and breweries still order specially painted signs.

The Inn Signs Society, which now has fewer than 400 members, is attempting to win a Heritage Lottery Fund grant in order to build an internet archive of signs before the tradition disappears altogether.

Critics of the high street chains also accuse them of killing off pub names with historic significance to their local area.

Many regionally-named pubs have been taken over and given new names such as the The Slug and Lettuce and The Rat and Parrot.

Mr Minogue quoted Rob Rowland, a 61-year-old artist who has painted more than 1,000 inn signs.

"What is happening is a great shame," he said.

"These corporate identities obliterate the historical significance of pubs and detach people from their roots.

"There are many reasons for the loss of inn signs, but it is all part of a general decline of cultural sensibility."