Scilly Signmaking To Move To Mainland

Signmaker, Cyril Nicholas

Signs for Natural England will no longer be made in Scilly from this autumn

Cyril Nicholas has been producing them for the whole of England from a workshop in Trenoweth since 1996, but will be retiring soon. And when Cyril goes, so will the sign-making.

The work will be moved up to the West Midlands and he’ll be involved in training his replacement.

Cyril originally worked with the Nature Conservancy Council and started in 1979 from an office under the Sunset disco, but when the Environmental Trust, the predecessor of the Wildlife Trust was formed, they took over maintaining paths and Cyril’s signwriting hobby experience took him in a new direction.

He says he has a massive area to cover including all the nature reserves from the Lizard, to Lindisfarne and up to the Welsh Borders, around two to three thousand signs a year.

Originally the signs, which often indicate nature trails, were typset and sometimes carved with a scalpel, but today, massive printers are used to replicate images and maps onto a light metal backing and the signs are covered in a laminate that is resistant to graffiti.

The weight of the signs can lead to some sizeable mailing charges too and Cyril says he’s put a lot of money through the post offices’ till for postage over the years

Cyril says he’s taken off work with in the past with an industrial injury caused by the repetitive work of holding a scalpel.

And he says writing some of the place names on the English-Welsh border has proved a challenge over the years, although it’s normally the people who send him the orders who get the spelling wrong, he says!

Cyril will move to the mainland at the end of October and oversee the new signmaker in Worcester before retiring to Cornwall next April.