Zebra Crossing on Motorway!

Sheffield University Rag 1967

Rag Spider

Rag Stunts

QE2 HMS Twikker
The most significant Shefield Rag publicity stunt of 1967 was doubtless the renaming of the Cunard liner QE2, while moored on the Clyde, by painting HMS Twikker (the name of the Rag Magazine) on her stern. The stunt was widely reported in the national press, with some admiration for its ingenuity. Five students rowed two miles up the Clyde and painted the four ft. high letters using a paintbrush attached to a 15 ft. pole. The shipowners took the stunt in good part.

A few days later, another paint daubing publicity stunt, similar in concept, ended up less well received and achieved only local coverage. The scheme was to paint a Zebra Crossing on a newly built extension to the M1 motorway near Stainsby, southeast of Chesterfield, in the early hours, in the expectation that the projected opening by the Minister of Transport, at 10.00 a.m. that day, would be delayed while the crossing was removed.

A team of seven students was involved, five marking out the stripes and two filling with emulsion paint. Two scaffold poles with orange balloons attached were painted to resemble Belisha Beacons.

The M1 Zebra Crossing at Night
Early in the morning, and the six-lane crossing is finished.
A few of the group remained at the scene in order to observe developments, and to notify the police had the crossing not been detected prior to the opening. In the event, the minister's arrival was delayed, the crossing was removed without fuss, and the stunt went unremarked by all but the Sheffield Morning Telegraph the following day (October 26th 1967).

Predictably, the police declared the stunt stupid, presumably, in their limited fashion, choosing to believe that the intention was to cause multiple pile-ups on the motorway, which seems also to have been the contractors' rather naive assessment.

The crossing was discovered at about 7.00 a.m. when a construction vehicle approached, slowed down, crossed, braked fairly rapidly, reversed up to and then over it. The workmen were clearly amused, and one man jokingly berated the driver of another vehicle for proceeding while he was on the crossing.
The M1 Zebra Crossing on the M1
Daylight, and the contractors finally figure out what to do. A photograph hastily taken from the hard shoulder.
Early attempts at scrubbing off the paint failed (the discarded broom lies on the central reservation in the images.) Following some discussion, shortly after 9.00 a.m. a van towing a tar sprayer arrived to finish the job.
The Zebra Crossing slowly disappears
Going, going .... As expected, the crossing was eventually covered over with tar.
Once the tarring operation was in full swing, within thirty minutes the crossing had disappeared.
The Zebra Crossing Tarred Over
Gone! The workmen packing up ready to leave.
The Belisha Beacons remained, perhaps later to puzzle drivers and passengers on the newly opened motorway.
© G.J. Bath
Note: The Sheffield Students' Union Film Unit made a short documentary about Rag '67:

Sheffield Rag '67 Film.

Link last accessed December 2015.
And in similar vein ...

In 1968, authorities denied that Sheffield Rag had breached security to place a banner in the Concorde hanger renaming it Twikkère. Thus, the photograph on the front page of Darts (October 24th 1968), the then student newspaper, would have to be a fake.

The Concorde Banner
Another Rag masterpiece (or is that chef d'oeuvre?), though this one didn't hit the headlines.>

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