Margaret Calvert

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Margaret Calvert (born 1936) is a British typographer and graphic designer who, with colleague Jock Kinneir, designed many of the road signs used throughout the United Kingdom, as well as the Transport font used on road signs, the Rail Alphabet font used on the British railway system, and an early version of the signs used in airports. The typeface developed by Calvert and Kinneir was further developed into New Transport and used for the single domain GOV.UK website in the United Kingdom.[1]

Born in South Africa, Calvert moved to England in 1950, where she studied at St Paul's Girls' School and at the Chelsea College of Art. Kinneir, her tutor there, asked her to help him design the signs for Gatwick Airport, where they chose the black on yellow scheme for the signs after researching the most effective combination.[2]

In 1957, Kinneir was appointed head of signs for Britain's roads. He then hired Calvert to redesign the road sign system and she came up with simple, easy-to-understand pictograms, including the signs for 'men at work' (a man digging), 'farm animals' (based on a cow named Patience that lived on a farm near to where she grew up), and 'schoolchildren nearby' (a girl leading a boy by the hand), based on pre-existing European road signs.[3] The Worboys Committee was formed by the British government in July 1963 to review signage on all British roads.

In addition to her road signs, she has designed commercial fonts for Monotype, including the eponymous Calvert font, a slab serif design which she created in 1980 for use on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.[4] She was awarded an honorary degree by the University of the Arts London in 2004.[5]

She appeared on Top Gear on 3 January 2010 talking about the design process of the UK road signs. James May interviewed her in a 2009 Vauxhall Insignia.[6]


  1. ^ "A few words on Typography". GDS Blog. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Time of the Signs". Frieze. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  3. ^ McClatchey, Caroline (9 December 2011). "The road sign as design classic". BBC News. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  4. ^ "Calvert". Identifont. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "First graduating year of University of the Arts London". University of the Arts London. 7 June 2004. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Top Gear S14E07 programme notes". BBC. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 


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