Mellor traffic light signal head

Front view of a traffic signal head showing the the red, amber and green lights.
Front view of a traffic signal head showing the the red, amber and green lights.


A traffic light signal head designed by industrial designer David Mellor in 1965, on commission from the Ministry of Transport. Updating a system that had been relatively unchanged since the 1930s, the project was in response to a 1963 report that concluded existing traffic management to be out of date for both the increased numbers of vehicles on the road and their increased speed. The requirement was for a standardised design with improved visibility, that was adaptable to include additional signage such as filter arrows for the control of complex junctions, and that would provide more assistance for pedestrians crossing the road. The Mellor signal head was introduced in 1968, with the individual lights encased within a blow moulded unit in polypropylene (PP). Two flat panels in polyethylene (PE) were screwed on either side to make the overall body much larger, outlined in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) reflective tape, and easily replaceable with different panels that incorporated a variety of regulating signs. Each light had a hinged opening at the front to access the bulb (whereas previously the fitting would need to be unscrewed), but the transformer unit still needed to be accessed from behind. Large protruding, flexible, impact resistant visors in PE covered the new lamps to prevent natural light reducing contrast, and the optical system (brighter during the day and less intense at night) was developed by GEC (General Electric Co.) with tungsten halogen bulbs mounted in parabolic reflectors with an acrylic lens. The new signals were considered to be maintenance-free, with all components made of plastics materials, including the coating on the steel mounting poles. Several manufacturers were employed to produce this design throughout the 1960s-1990s, this example was made by Plessey Automation for Somerset County Council and was gifted to the museum by Yunex Traffic who supply, install and maintain traffic signal and control equipment for the BCP council.
Designers & Manufacturers
Designer (Person)
Manufactured for


moulded: "Plessey Automation" (bottom, right of signal unit)

Object number

AIBDC : 009358.1


1990 - 1998 (circa)




PP signal unit
PE backing boards and visors
PMMA lens cover
polymethyl methacrylate
PVC reflective tape
polyvinyl chloride
steel mounting brackets