Zebra Crossing Introduced

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Zebra Crossing Introduced

Slough, Berkshire The 31st of October 1951 AD

Britain in October 1951 had only just got over the excitement of the Festival of Britain and then the zebra crossing came along. It was a necessary development given the huge numbers of road-deaths in Britain at the time, the product of research at the Transport Research Laboratory in Wokingham , and then tests in a yellow and black version before the one with which we are still familiar became the official design. It is not just to show pedestrians where to cross safely; the different coloured stripes help silhouette pedestrians and show movement, making it easier for drivers to see them.
The first black and white crossing – the nickname zebra, so legend has it, came from Jim Callaghan when he saw the thing at Wokingham – was installed in Slough , also home of the Mars Bar and The Office.
In its first year of use road deaths fell by more than 10 per cent; but perhaps familiarity breeding contempt, by 1960 more than 500 people died on zebra crossings in the UK in a six-month period, prompting the development and introduction of the Panda Crossing in 1962.
As well as the road safety aspect, the zebra crossing has enormous cultural resonance for the British thanks to the cover of The Beatles’ Abbey Road LP. All you need is love, and to slow down when you spot the Belisha Beacons.

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On this day:
Henry VI Crowned as Henri II in Paris - 1431, Oliver Cromwell becomes 'lord protector' - 1653, The 'Bill of Rights' established - 1689, Boston tea party - 1773, Battle of the Bulge Begins - 1944
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