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The History of Traffic Lights in the UK


Have you ever wondered what traffic lights are and when they were invented? Well at SRL Traffic Systems we have the answers! A traffic light is a collection of two or more coloured lights found at some junctions and pedestrian crossings which indicates whether it is safe and/or legal to continue across the path of other road users.

In the UK, traffic lights are widely used both on major roads and in built-up areas. Their numbers have increased exponentially since they were first invented in 1868.

The first traffic lights actually had their roots in the railway signals used at the time, where two gas lamps, one red and one green were used. The first lights were installed outside the Houses of Parliament in London on 10 December, 1868 to control the increasing number of vehicles there. However, according to some sources, they later exploded and injured the policeman operating them.

The first electric traffic lights were developed in the USA in the early 20th Century; following this the first automatic lights in the UK were installed in Princes Square in Wolverhampton. Nowadays, traffic lights are often operated by complex computer software designed to optimise traffic flow.

Did you know that SRL are the UK’s only manufacturer to sell and hire traffic light equipment? After decades of manufacturing and selling, in 2010 SRL became the first, and to-date only, manufacturer to offer traffic light equipment for hire to the Traffic Management Industry; and they have the UK’s largest hire fleet of portable and temporary, traffic light and pedestrian signals. For more information and to discuss your requirements, please contact the head office on 01606 738866 or sales@srl.co.uk

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