Why London's iron railings are painted black: One thing that's not specific to Savile Row - but is the first thing that many people notice about the street - is that it boasts a range of typical London architecture (from modern to classic). Another thing many people notice is the preponderance of iron railings that many regard to be typical of inner-London architecture. You may be wondering why these railings - and almost all other similar railings in London - are painted black. 1. They are painted because otherwise they would quickly rust. 2. They used to be painted all sorts of colours. The Victorian Society states that: "In the first half of the nineteenth century 'invisible' greens (so called because they would blend into a background of foliage) were used for fences, gates, railings and garden furniture. In 1840 Humphrey Repton recommended a 'bronze' finish, made by powdering copper or gold dust on a green background. Green was used throughout the mid Victorian period but dark blue, red and chocolate brown were also popular." 3. Following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, iron railings (as well as doors, window frames and just about anything else you could think of) were painted black as a sign of mourning. In these times, under a monarch that mourned her husband's passing for years to come (and famously continued to wear black until she too passed away), it should come as no surprise that the railings remained black for many decades following Prince Albert's death. 4. A change might have been in the air in the early 20th century had the country not been plunged into one tragic war followed by another that 'required' London's iron railings to be melted down for munitions (reports cite suspicions harboured by many that much of the metal collected in these nationwide drives was of little use and therefore quietly dumped). 5. When and where railings were (eventually) replaced after WWII, an unconscious effort appears to have been made to restore London to its exact former state, meaning that the new railings were also painted black. So now you know!
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