Saturday, November 10, 2012

Brown Signs!

This new sign is at the A22 roundabout.
You can see the temple spire on the right.

The long-awaited tourist brown signs are here! They were finally installed this week, letting people traveling the roundabouts and rural roads of Surrey know that the London Temple has a Visitors' Centre and that they are welcome to stop and learn about the temple and examine teachings of the Church. Over the years many attempts have been made to get directional signs approved for the London Temple, without success. We could see the need for such signs as soon as we arrived in January. We were told to start early, the British bureaucracy was slow, and we would not likely get signs up before we were released in two years. It's been ten months, but the signs are now up, and more are coming! We're so happy about that. Now we've applied to West Sussex County for more signs leading to the temple from Crawley and the Gatwick Airport. 

The United States is cluttered with billboards, neon signs, commercial signs, and street signs of every kind and shape, but in the British Isles signs are closely regulated -- both commercial and government.  It's quite nice actually. You can see the beautiful landscape when you drive around, instead of billboards and signs (when you can see past the trees and over the hedges). However, many people drive by right by the temple and have no idea what it is or that they are welcome on the grounds. Even though the temple has been here more than 50 years, without any informational signs, most people would never venture inside the temple gates. That's not good for attendance at a Visitors' Centre. Our work was cut out for us when we arrived.

In checking with the Highways Department of the Surrey County Council, we learned that there was a special  application form for tourist/information centres, and that our Visitors' Centre met their criteria.  We were a tourist destination "open to the public without prior booking during normal opening hours."  This wouldn't be true of the London Temple, of course, which may be why there have been no directional signs to the temple since its dedication in 1958.  Pat and I delivered our application to the Surrey Council on April 2.   We reached an agreement with Surrey highway engineers to erect signs with the words London Temple & Visitor Centre.  We then had to have the Church Missionary Department obtain agreement from the Church Temple Department to approve the signs. The beauty of this agreement is that the new signs now help both temple patrons and visitors find their way to the temple grounds.

The roundabout at Snow Hill and West Park Road
After the application was finally approved, the signs were paid for in July and assigned to contractors to install. Then we waited... and waited... and waited. I watched nearly every day for four months to see if they were being installed. I even called and emailed the department a few times. Since our signs were not about a hazard or emergency, they were not a high priority for the Highway Department.

It was a great day when the signs went up last week! Now that they are finally installed, we are thrilled.  Having brown signs for the Visitors' Centre is very helpful because we are now officially designated as a government recognized tourist/information centre for visitors. In recent weeks we've seen more and more non-members come to the Visitors' Centre.  Last month our missionaries taught three times as many non-members as we did a few months ago.  With the new signs, we expect this trend to increase.                         ~Don~

1 comment:

  1. so awesome! brown signs and grey skies. who knew they would make such a beautiful combination?