Author Catherine Smyth of Catherine Smyth Media.
ANYONE shopping in Bacup can’t help but admire the intricate art work of sign writer Steve Broxton.
When Rossendale Council secured Townscape Heritage Initiative funding to improve parts of Bacup centre, the then project manager Steve Lever went in search of a local sign writer.
He was looking for someone who could hand paint the shop signs to make sure the improvements were in keeping with the buildings’ historical past.
Fortunately, just two miles away from the town centre, he found Broxton Signs based in Weir – run by Steve Broxton
Steve said: “Walking round the town centre and looking up at the shops gives me a sense of pride.
“I have not done many jobs in my local area as most of my commissions are in other parts of the country. This was an interesting job and it has led me to get extra work on a THI project in Northwich and sign writing projects in Padiham.”
The former Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School student, went on to complete a two-year diploma in sign writing at Central Manchester College qualifying in 1985.
At first he worked for different sign writing businesses, but in 2002 he started working for himself and set up Broxton Signs offering all kinds of signage, including hand-painted.
He said: “Times are changing and artisan crafts are now more in demand. There has been an increase in heritage projects where they are looking for something in keeping with the history of the area and vinyl signs won’t do. It is good to be able to offer hand-painting.”
Steve was first asked to design the signage for the Pioneer Building, a very prominent landmark for anyone visiting the town.
He researched the history and selected fonts that reflected its heritage and then visited each of the four shops on the front and the two first-floor businesses to get the designs approved by all parties including the council.
Steve said: “There is continuity in each of the signs above the doors and then I was able create individuality for the businesses by making vinyl signs for the windows.”
The dominant RSPCA building, on the corner of Union Street and Rochdale Road, was next and then in phase 2 he completed signage for the businesses on St James Street, that were participating in the scheme.
Steve is also in demand to create hand-painted pub signs for locations all over England.
THI Project Manager Mhorag Saxon said: “Rossendale Council has been delighted with the work that Steve has done to put the finishing touches on the regeneration project.
“He has skilfully created the appropriate look for all of the buildings. None of this would have been possible without people playing the lottery.”
In 2013 Rossendale Council secured £2million of regeneration money for Bacup through the Heritage Lottery Townscape Heritage Initiative.
Work included the renovation and restoration of shop fronts and original features on buildings.
This included the shops in Pioneer Building, on St James Street and the art-deco REAL building on St James Square. Improvements were also made to the road and bus station.