By James Ward
A man has reclaimed one of Britain’s oldest and most redundant jobs after his passion for cleaning road signs was noticed by the local parish council.
Archie Workman, 62, works as a lengthsmen for the parish council, a title held in medieval times for a person who maintained a ‘length’ of road, keeping it neat and tidy, but when the role was taken over by local councils the job was no longer needed.
However, after recent funding cuts, Archie noticed that small country roads were being neglected and after his parish council, in Colton, Cumbria, advised the job he gladly excepted the title.
Archie, who describes himself as a celebrity drain spotter and sign cleaner, has been visiting all 65 signs in the local area with his step ladders and cleaning products to give them a good scrub.
Archie, works full-time as a manager of a business centre, said: “I have basically bought the job back and now look after 100 miles of road in the area.
“I noticed that signs and hedgerows in the area were being completely neglected and that some were completely unreadable.
“I noticed that the parish council were advertising the job role and I jumped at the chance, now I do 21 hours a week alongside my full-time job.
“I’m really passionate about it, I even restore the old Victorian signs to their former glory because otherwise they would be forgotten about.
“When I go on holiday to other places in the UK I’m appalled by the state of the signs up and down the country.
“I don’t blame the council at all as they are trying to do the best, I’m just helping the community.”
Archie was originally a drain spotter, taking pictures of drains up and down the country, but has now inspired members of the Women’s Institute to get involved with the big clean up.
He uses a pan scrubber and cleaning spray to get his road sign sparkling and even has a water pistol and long broom to get to hard to reach places.
The former marine biologist has even taken on a role as a public speaker with talks such as ‘life in the gutter’ to promote the maintenance of roads across the UK.
He said: “The WI have become like a little army, they have really got involved.
“The maintenance has become so successful that I have even been head hunted by other parish councils nearby, I have become an ambassador for road signs.
“I get a few raised eyebrows but general I get a lot of support, even from my wife, Beth.
“My signs are the cleanest in Cumbria.”