Bringing the new Kings Cross Departure Boards to life – that Solari Board sound

When you follow a search for Kings Cross on twitter you get all sorts of things – party people in Kings Cross Sydney Australia, people heading for Water Rats, trying to find Kings Place, arranging to meet at Nandos, berating the railways, even the odd sex worker.  This tweet made me think a minute:

@wixy699 I miss the ticky tacky departure board in kings cross 😦

Nick as @wixy699 is known is talking about what Wikipedia tells me is called a ‘split flap display‘ or a Solari Board, after the Italian manufacturers, that made a comforting noise when they changed.  There’s a nostalgic video with sound of one in Newark NJ below:

The new Kings Cross concourse in the glass blister will have the functional but anodyne orange LED display boards.  The big problem with these is that they are silent – you never know when something has changed so you have to keep a close eye on them.  At Paddington in particular there are crowds of people standing motionless staring at the boards – in the chaos of the evening rush hour you dare not miss a beat as the trains are posted late and leave within  a minute or two.  The old Solari boards though gave you an audio clue of when to turn and look.

Kings Cross has a particular problem with trains turning around so fast they are hard to catch.  The new boarding arrangements will make it a long hike to platforms 2,1 and 0 and there will be some of the Clapham Junction stampede as passengers herd frantically over the bridge.  I wonder if Network Rail could add the gentle ‘ticky tacky’ sound of the departure boards changing over the PA?  It would also allow people to spend more time in shops and restaurants – rather than milling in the concourse staring at screens.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
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2 Responses to Bringing the new Kings Cross Departure Boards to life – that Solari Board sound

  1. here’s a more quotidian sound from Monday, after the action, in front of the station:

  2. Clare Hill says:

    I LOVE these. I didn’t know that’s what they were called. I call them ‘clickety clacks’ and I filmed them wherever I could as I traversed Europe and Asia by train. I don’t know what it is about them that’s so incredibly romantic. Notably, Gare du Nord still has a Solari. I gawped up at it the other day – it’s beautiful and massive. They must be a bitch to update though. Like your idea of an aural prompt, but you know it’d end up being some sort of siren or bell…

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