Destination Blinds

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Most people say that as the phrase gives no real clue as to what they are. We know what a blind is - it keeps the sun off. But a destination blind? Anyone who has sat in a bus station will know what they are. Rolls of canvas fitted to buses and coaches that are changed by the driver at the terminus to indicate where the bus is going. Some are fairly informative offering 'via points', some just offer a destination, others a number. Most vehicles carry just one at the front along with a three track number that allows any route number to be selected between 001 and 999. Why collect them? I built my collection on the back of routes I used regularly. In London my local garages were Harrow Weald and Uxbridge and although I would pick up anything that was going free at the various garages I visited, I always longed for something that had destinations from around my home patch.  In London, in the 1970s all blinds were, as they had been for 50 years, manafactured by London Transport. Provincial bus companies used external printing firms such as Atlas, ECO and King & Flack but LT had their own in house works and method of manufacture. LT blinds were made by screen printing paper labels and sticking them onto linen. That gave the blinds their distinctive 'creases' between displays. LT also continued to make blinds for London County after they split from LT in Jan 1970 but this was to be a shortlived affair. LC turned to King & Flack who used good thick close woven linen and heavy duty vinyl inks. The products were superb quality and they used the unique LT typeface too so the vehicles looked just as they had always done. Time moves on, blinds are becoming rarer as LEDs take over. K&F went bust, LT closed their plant and now, like the rest of the UK, London bus blinds are made by McKenna Brothers of Cheshire using tyvek, a plasticy, papery material that is tough but creases easily.  Age also affects it - tyvek blinds over 20 years old become brittle and will crumble like burnt newspaper. Everything is dayglo yellow too! If you are wanting to collect blinds, go for whatever you want. There is no rhyme nor reason on what sells. I've seen horrible yellow tyveks make more than interesting RF blinds form the 1960s. Sets are worth more - a Routemaster carries 7 blinds and if you can provide a preserved RM owner with a set for his/her bus you can probably ask £300 for something from the 1980s in good nick.

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