The 60th Anniversary of the Zebra Crossing

Here's an interesting bit of trivia for you. The first ever zebra crossing to be officially implemented in the UK was in Slough, Berkshire, on October 31, 1951. How we forgot to share that fact on Halloween is remarkable. The zebra crossing has been a prominent feature on British roads for six decades, yes, the road safety measure that you and I take for granted daily is 60 years old. The same age as Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway. But fancy dress and road safety we hear you cry! Yes, there is a vague connection in the form of a Green Cross Code Man fancy dress costume, read on, The 60th annniversary of the zebra crossing is more interesting than you might think.

Adult Official Green Cross Code Man Costume

Apparently, postwar Britain had something like only 10 percent of its current road traffic, yet fatalities were mounting with more and more people investing in a motor car amid the added piece of mind that the Germans were no longer going to come along and blow it up along with most of your house and part of your garden. At the time an average pedestrian crossing would have been indicated by two parallel lines of metal studs in the road to signify the area for people to cross safely. It would have been simple for a pedestrian to see, but not so obvious for motorists. It would have been hard enough staying in control of the vehicle, looking out for dangers ahead and possibly in the sky if you were particularly nervous.

Green Cross Code Fancy Dress

By the seventies thousands of people were being injured and killed on Britain's roads, regardless of the introduction of the zebra crossing. A large number of those affected were children, so a plan was set in motion to educate the children of how dangerous roads could be. A TV ad campaign educating viewers was introduced onto Britain's screens and we were all introduced to the Green Cross Code and the Green Cross Man in his unforgettable Green Cross Code fancy dress costume.

Arriving at the audition, which was set out to cast this brave new road safety superhero, rumour has it that the actor David Prowse turned up in an outfit not too dissimilar to the colours of what were used in the final Green Cross Code fancy dress costume worn on the actual television commercials. Along with the chaps acting ability, his choice of colours is said to have been what got the man hired.

After 3 years of broadcast the numbers of road deaths and injuries had risen, the message just wasn’t getting through. It took the Central Office of Information, the Department of Transport and their ad agency to come up with some clever marketing and reintroduce the scheme spearheaded by an exciting superhero character, one which would be larger than life and would wear a bright and bold Green Cross Code Man Fancy Dress costume.

The Most Famous Zebra Crossing in the World

The Beatles brought international fame to the British zebra crossing in 1969 with their album cover for Abbey Road. In 2010, the iconic crossing was granted a Grade II listing in the capital to preserve the site preventing it from being replaced by a more modern form of crossing. Many tourists have followed in the footsteps of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, by posing for pictures on the black and white painted pathway, risking the safety of the designated photographer and potentially sending them bouncing over a car bonnet. To drive in the area itself must be frustrating because I'm willing to bet more people stop for photos that you could possibly imagine causing delays and holding up traffic.

I'm pretty sure I saw a documentary on BBC Four that explained the cover of the record has no real meaning or artistic merit to it, it was realised that there was no artwork for the Beatles new album and they didn't want to go to a lot of effort to create the cover. One of the band simply said "why don't we just go outside and take a picture". If only it was taken today, we picture the four clad in Green Cross Code Man fancy dress.

According to, they claim that, experts have foretold the death of the painted bits of road, saying traffic lights and other forms of modernisation are killing off the zebras. Apparently in just five years, over 1,000 crossings have been replaced with lights. What on earth would the man in the Green Cross Code Costume say?

Green Cross Code Costume

Stepping into the Green Cross Code Man Costume, actor David Prowse had previously starred in The Kenneth Williams Show, The Horror of Frankenstein and Carry on Henry. He eventually went on to play Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. It's true, look it up.

The Green Cross Code Man television adverts introduced viewers to the Green Cross Code with it's simple to grasp instructions and important message presented by a large hulking man wearing his trademark Green Cross Code costume. The code, if you are old enough to remember is find a safe place to cross, stand near the kerb and not on it, look all around for traffic, if there's traffic let it pass and if there's no traffic coming, walk straight across the road but look and listen as you cross. As relevant today as it ever was.

Today, the number of pedestrians killed on the roads has fallen significantly and we are strides ahead of the figures from the early 70's. This could and probably is a direct result of the Green Cross Code Man.

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