MY LIFE IS NOW COMPLETE… Here, for your telegraphic delectation, the ultimate in home automata – a robot telegraph pole. Kindly brought into existence by London-based, Gloucestershire-born, artist Simon Handy www.simonhandy.com (and footage from Lottie O’Leary’s mobile phone).
Simon, we salute you.
Esteemed member #0654 is Paul Kirkup. He knows a thing or two about telegraph poles. Little ones, model ones, diorama-sized ones. He made the 10 inch model that now adorns our mantelpiece - next to the photo of my bank manager.
Anyway, now that the weather is better, Paul ventured outside to show us some of the things that adorn his curtilage He has a passion for the old London Midland Region of British Railways and this is reflected by the station and platform he has built in his garden. Painted red and cream of course. And what does a station need but a telegraph pole. So...
..."I bought the longest wooden pole I could find and fitted it with a cross arm and two spindles and insulators. As I am also interested in old forms of lighting, I added a suitable light fitting which switches on at dusk and goes off at midnight. There are no wires to the pole - yet - but planning is underway and two-way communication between the house and station should be achieved using a pair of field telephones, Army, type F."
Paul also sent us a photo of the remnant of a crossarm unearthed whilst rummaging in the undergrowth at Craigellachie station...
..."Now mounted on a stub pole which will eventually form part of the station communications network mentioned above. The position I found the relic in, just beyond the end of the station platform, means that it must have been mounted on the pole adjacent to the signal box, a photo of which I found in a book. It is rather nice to be able to see a photo of something now preserved for posterity, or at least as long as I am around to look after it, following which my nearest and dearest will probably chuck it in a skip!"
Paul's cakebox diorama came to the attention of the Editor of British Railway Modelling magazine, who commissioned him to write and illustrate some railway modelling projects for the mag. The second of these articles concerns the authentic modelling of telegraph poles. Paul tells us he feels that most modellers simply plant model poles straight out of the box, without much thought as to their authenticity. This has to change. I feel a campaign coming on.
A sudden letter of underwhelmment*1 this week from Jenny Tailyour recently returned from a journey of unenlightenment:
Given the legendary ferocity of their thirsts, your membership may be interested in a discovery made during an otherwise disappointing tour of the Scottish lowlands. Attached are photographs of unspectacular poles at Coldstream and North Berwick. The third photograph, however, represents a consummation devoutly to be wished by any lover of those two pillars of civilised society: telegraph poles and alcohol. Yes, finally, a telegraph pole you can actually drink. This bottle of Bush Telegraph comes from the Antipodes yet was found resting on the shelves of an out-of-the-way 'offie' in East Lothian.
It is now empty.
*1 Underwhelmment really should be a word.
Congratulations to Aaron Bailey who finally gets a credit for Pole of the Month. He was recently disqualified during a previous attempt at this prestigious award due to having submitted photos of dead poles. This time however – poor quality photograph notwithstanding – he bagged a winner:
“After a recent visit to that place where it always rains, North Wales, (Llanberis actually) I also saw that rare blue thing you have also spotted whilst looking skywards for tall, wooden sticky up things. See pictures. This pretty standard BT pole comes complete with its own self seeded Rowan tree growing out the top.
So not only is it tall, wooden and sticky up it’s also going to keep going up as it grows and gets taller! So how about that from a Telegraph Poler’s Brain!”
Let me start with apologies. A power surge in our particular valley destroyed just two things last week: #1; my broadband router, and #2; the bit in the exchange where my particular wire plugs into whatever apparatus they have in there. Everything and everyone else for miles around was completely unscathed. So if you're waiting for a reply from me for anything do please carry on waiting as this has nothing at all to do with my tardiness - that's just sloth on my part. This apology is for Mrs TPAS for using some choice and military strength vocabulary as the internet singularly failed to let me listen to the final hours of the football league relegation dramas. My life revolves around relegation dogfights and then ultimately the relegation itself.
So, back to matters of appreciation. Regular readers of this sage prose will know of my affinity towards dioramas. Not so very long ago I commissioned a spectacular 3 armed miniature telegraph pole for my mantlepiece from member #0654, Paul Kirkup. To this day, it still has pride of place among my Reddest Rhubarb, Curliest Runner Bean and other trophies.
Anyway, another Paul, Paul Rees, a diorama modeller of some spectacularity sent me the fantastic photos you see below of a 33kv termination pole, an L6 400kv tower (pylon to you) and a 33kv substation. These just blew me away in the level of detail. Paul says the 33kv pole is modelled on one that can be found at Port Lane substation outside Winchester. Quite brilliant. Thanks for sharing them with us.
If these are for a competition Paul, I suspect some silverware will be making it to your mantlepiece too. Not fruit and veg related trophies alas, but you can't have everything.
Until very recently Gary Straiton thought he was alone. Completely alone. But let me assure you of this Gary, you are born alone, and you will die alone but in between there is The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society. You have found us new member #0829 and you are among friends. Weird friends, but friends nonetheless.
"Anyway," Gary tells us "One of my things is proper railway lines with telegraph poles." (Ours too Gary) He sent us the following photos of the poles remaining on the closed (1967) main line between Perth and Kinnaber Junction. He also told us that when permission was granted to close the line by Barbara Castle one of the conditions was that infrastructure was to remain in case of reopening (insert ho ho ho's here). The line was shut in September 67 but a section remained open for goods only until June 1982. It's important to know this formed part of the West Coast Main Line, hence the pole route wasn’t lightweight.
Gary continued "Probably all the remaining TP’s on the Strathmore line are west of Forfar, the section of the line to Perth remaining open until 1982. It would appear that the poles weren’t part of the deal when the scrap men moved in."
Gary sent us links to his Flickr feeds with some brillilant photo collections that I highly recommend you take a look at. I'm rather pleased with myself that I've worked out this clever way of shortening the links. That's what we're here for. Anyway, the pics are brilliant, thanks Gary.
Nothing more to be said really. Good job it wasn’t a power line ! Many thanks to Robert Park for this Irish brilliance.
Our Honorary Technical Advisor, Sir Keith S**a* (ooh! I nearly said his name then) continues the search for a telegraph pole with his initials on. The pictures you see below are from his recent foray into darkest Dumfries & Galloway. It was here – whilst tantalising a dozen or more trout with a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear*1 – that Keith came across these seemingly unused poles forming a
makeshift bridge over a ditch for the facilitation of timber extraction.
“I found that one of them is a 9 metre medium pole bearing the initials of my old friend and mentor BK, Bernard Kendall. Bernard was from Birmingham and was the resident Poles Inspector at the pole yard of Calders and Grandidge at Boston Lincolnshire.
I was a young trainee and had to spend 3 months, under the instruction of the inspector, at each of the 7 pole depots around the country to complete my training, so was away from wife and son all week and home at week-ends, then an internal exam to qualify for the job. (I got the best exam marks ever recorded). Anyway, Bernard and his wife Hilda took me under their wing, looked after me like a son, fed me, counselled me, and Hilda always made me my favourite Lemon Meringue Pie. They were the most wonderful caring people I have ever met and as I write I find I have tears in my eyes, they both went to that big pole yard in the sky many years ago.”
*1 As a young man-about-town, I always had a three-pack of these about my person.
– More in hope than anything.
– And this is the closest thing to innuendo that I’ve ever been.
– The trout are now cured, smoked and in Keith’s freezer. I know you were worried about them. As was the water-bailiff.
My week started when Charlie from out of the internet blue wrote to me. I was a little confused by his punctuation but ultimately he told me that I am the best, that God blesses me, and that I should keep preaching the pole gospel. He signed it with thanks from friends in Los Angeles. Goodness me ! Alright then Charlie, thank you. I will.
There were the usual letters with questions about telegraph poles: how high, how long, how big a gap between etc. Then there was another question about a fault that had been reported to a phone line in Yorkshire – to which my answer is always “Yep, we’re right on to it”. And I would expect no less gittish an answer had I rang the Keighley Valley & Worth Steam Railway and asked them if there is a buffet trolley on the 9:30 Arriva Trains service from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury. Maybe the distinction between appreciation society and directory inquiries is not so clear cut as I imagined.
Then, of course, there was that brilliant video John Brunsden sent us – see our facebook presence for that particular gem.
And finally, a succint email from Jamie, also from the internet, who asks “Do you accept members from Australia?” Do boys play football in the park I thought to myself. We accept anything from anyone from anywhere (at any time) is probably the best way to answer that question. Anyway, Jamie sent us the lovely power pole photo you see below together with the caption “High Wycombe, Perth, Western Australia”. Well, High Wycombe is in Buckinghamshire actually Jamie, so you got that wrong. And High Wycombe, being in British Buckinghamshire, almost never experiences blue skies like that. So someone’s got their lines crossed I think. Speaking of crossed-lines – I counted no fewer than 30 parallelograms created from those bisecting power lines. So well done me.
We seem to have missed out February's Pole of the Month. It's only a short month, and my attention span is such that entire years can pass me by so a tiddly little month like February is nothing.
Anyway, we were traversing the dark underbelly of Wales from Brecon back to Aberystwyth via Llandovery and Lampeter and the badlands in-between. And just where the A482 leaves the A40 is Llanwrda - and March's P.O.T.M. Glorious it is too. Had the effect of causing a screech of brakes, a burnt rubber smell and the utterance "for Christ's sake" from Mrs TPAS. You don't need to have a near fatal accident in order to view it - simply go on a popular internet street view application and have a look for yourself. A worthy winner. I couldn't find anybody there to congratulate them, so if you're going that way do please tell them.
Click an image to see it in glorious bigness.