076/270: #LiverpoolStreet – The Split Flap

I have this memory of the main line terminal at Liverpool Street. I’m not sure when it was from because despite it being the closest terminal to where I live (and have lived), I don’t actually get to use it that much. On occasion I’ll divert through here and use the Chingford Lines if the tube really has gone pear-shaped, but the Lea Valley Lines and the Great Eastern Main are, for me, better accessed through Tottenham Hale or Stratford (074). This is somewhat of a shame as I love London Liverpool Street, and why wouldn’t you? I mean just look at that fantastic roof!

Perhaps one day I shall talk more at length about Liverpool Street, but as I feel that I’m digressing let’s get back to that memory…

Take a look at the picture above. The year is Nineteen Ninety Something and I’m standing right in the middle of the concourse ‘pit’ as I now like to call it (as you have to descend to it from any of the street level entrances). I’m looking up at the departure board, which these days is made up of rows and rows of yellow LED displays. And I hear this sound…

*click click click click click click click*
*flap flap flap flap flap flap flap*

Note sure what the hell I’m on about? Well think of the opening credits to the John Cleese film Clockwork or play the short clip above! Now imagine that sound ringing out in the cavernous space of Liverpool Street’s concourse.

For anyone not young enough to remember – they’re called Split Flap clocks and are sometimes known as Solari Boards after the display manufacturer. They were common place at large stations and airports all over the world in the 80’s and 90’s. They feature rows and rows or individual display cards which were SPLIT in to two halves and attached to a motorised reel. This would then rotate at speed until the correct image was displayed where the top half of the card would FLAP down over the bottom. Hence the name “Split Flat.” Sadly the Solari Boards, and the glorious noise they made, were phased out in favour of the modern modular LED displays we have now.

I still to this day associate Liverpool Street with the noise of those boards in the terminus above.

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

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2 thoughts on “076/270: #LiverpoolStreet – The Split Flap

  1. I remember the alarm clocks that did that. I played with a broken one at my grandmothers as a child, I used to just turn the dial and watch the numbers ‘flap’ over.


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