Power station

This sign, nothing to do with Robert Palmer, is inside the Balmain Power Station pump house building. The power station operated from around 1909 until it was decommissioned in 1976. In its day it supplied electricity to Balmain, Leichhardt, Ashfield, Newtown and Petersham, which is pretty amazing when all we can see today is an old brick shell with a bit of scaffolding to hold it up and a great old sign. The letters are copper and were salvaged when the power station itself was demolished.


I love Clarendon Bold. According to Jaspert’s Dictionary of Typefaces it was originally put out in 1845 by Robert Besley & Co (formerly the Fann Street Foundry) as a heavy face to accompany an ordinary roman in dictionaries and the like. I like slab serifs generally, but I like Clarendon particularly well, especially the upper case R, which exudes boldness and solidity and gutsiness while simultaneously showing off a touch of quirkiness. Clarendon shouts look at me, I am not ordinary, which I guess is why it was perfect for those American Wild West Wanted posters. Clarendon is not a typeface I use very often, but it is striking and worthy and I am pleased to have made its acquaintance.

Call box


This has it all. Type, colour, a hint of abstract expressionism. I spotted it last month in a pullout on the Pali Highway on the way to Kaneohe.