By Helen Shingler:
The famous red fingerpost sign opposite the Red Post Inn on the A3072 Bude to Holsworthy road is believed to have been stolen by person or persons unknown overnight on Saturday 17th of April.
It is an important local landmark and well known to visitors to the area including tourists heading to Bude; when you pass it, you know you are ‘nearly there’.
In 2010, the signpost was dismantled and repaired, having lost one of its arms and then repainted, reassembled and proudly put back in place. This work would not have taken place without the generous help of Launcells Parish Council who obtained a grant from Awards for All (part of the Big Lottery Fund). There were also several other agencies involved whose support was invaluable; the repair cost for just one arm was £900 at the time. The whole sign was again refurbished a few years ago by Cornwall Council and it looked fabulous and so iconic.
As far as I am aware, this was the only red signpost in Cornwall which makes its loss even more tragic. I have only seen them in Dorset where I believe there are four altogether. The history behind them is speculative but many theories have been put forward as to why they were red and white. Some say it is because they have been erected at junctions where gallows or gibbets once stood. Indeed a gallows did stand at those crossroads for centuries and the last public hanging in Cornwall took place here for stealing sheep in the mid 1800s.
The Red Post Inn acquired its name and notoriety during the 18th and 19th centuries when smuggling and wrecking was rife along the Cornish coastline. The Inn itself was said to be frequented by dubious characters who traded loot before it was spirited away in the dead of night to other places. The Red Post Inn was often raided and those caught were hanged right there on the spot.
We would all like to see the red fingerpost restored to its rightful place opposite the Red Post Inn. Tracy and Paul the owners have offered a £500 reward for its safe return which has been matched by a local man.
There is now a Crime Number for this theft which is 031483/21 so you can contact the local police with any information or message the Red Post Inn through its Facebook page or phone them on 01288 381814.
Local people have been asked to check their dash cam footage, because the Inn’s CCTV does not cover the sign.
Please share this as widely as possible to raise awareness of the theft and let’s hope that the signpost will reappear. It’s an awful thought that it may just have been stolen for scrap value, or as a prank when its historic value is beyond measure.
You can read the full article on the restoration in 2010 here.