Are we nearly there yet? How Margaret Calvert steered Britain into the fast laneOctober 24, 2020
Her revolutionary road signs upset the old guard – but the design doyenne put her foot down and made history. At 84, can she reinvent our railways?
It is almost impossible to escape Margaret Calvert. She’s standing at every motorway junction, beaming out in bold, bright letters, and at the corner of every street, warning of potential hazards ahead. Now aged 84, and still busy in her studio, the designer jointly responsible for giving British roads their visual identity is the subject of a retrospective at the Design Museum.
“I’m not quite as slim as I was back then,” says the South African-born designer, standing in front of one of her famous school crossing signs on show in the exhibition. “But the hairstyle has remained the same.” Tasked with updating the previous sign, which had depicted a grammar-school boy in a cap leading a younger girl with a satchel across the road, she decided to flip it around and put the girl in charge. She modelled the silhouette on a photo of herself as a child. Her neat bob hasn’t changed much since – nor has her ability to lead the way.