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.
Blimey, this came around quick. March 5th – as if you’d forget – is Lei Feng Day – a special day in the Telegraph Pole calendar. Here’s a celebratory poster made especially and exclusively for us by wonderful Wiltshire artist, Dave Bennett. Who, co-incidentally, has the TPAS membership number #666. Make of that what you will. And if you want a reminder of who the hell Lei Feng is go <here> or buy our book. We think the latter is the better option (esp. if you use the 10% off coupon code: IAMSKINT).
Stephen Poole from New Romney asked us to help identify the lump of wood you see below. Found on a beach on the south Kent coast and he thought it might be a ship’s mast. There were two support timbers linked with a metal bar that went through the pole. The markings are three crown symbols, the number 26 and a capital letter H. Somebody told him that it might be a telegraph pole.
Anyway, no point in having an Honorary Technical Adviser unless you’re going to bombard him with questions. And I happen to know that our H.T.A. T.P.A.S. Keith S**** is also on an eternal quest to find a pole butt with his initials on. And because he is likely every bit as old as the pole you see here, we just knew he’d have the answer:
“This is a 26ft stout pole, the growth rings very tight, certainly imported from Finland, British pines do not grow this slow,(the tighter the rings the slower has been the growth) species is Pinus Sylvestris ie. Scots Pine. Light poles had one crown, medium poles 2 crowns and stout poles had 3 crowns , a little unusual to find a stout ie. larger girth pole at this shorter length.
Some poles were imported from Russia but that was at about the time of the revolution and I have seen in the old GPO archives a report from a poles inspector, out there to buy poles, which describes violence in the streets,” I hied myself to a doorway for safety ” he reports.
The letter H is interesting – there would usually be the 2 initials of the inspector who accepted the pole,so probably before the time of even my older colleagues. I can go back to 1969. A shame that we cannot see the scribing at the ten foot mark which would give us a date. It looks free from rot but would be better preserved in the sea than in situ and in contact with the ground, so my guess (educated, but still a guess) would be sometime in the 50s.”
Thank you for that Sir Keith. Anyway, speaking of beach finds, some time ago I was out jogging on a beach, probably on the south coast, and a wooden treasure chest stuffed with gold and jewels of immeasurable beauty and worth fell out of my pocket. So if any detectorists down there (or indeed anywhere) come across any or all of this fabulous fortune – it’s mine, all mine I tell you. And I can easily identify it – it’s shiny and has immeasurable beauty and worth.
Praise be for thesauruses (thesaurusii?) - for helping me find the pompous splendiferosity that is the word "pulchritudinous". Definitely not part of my everyday lexicon, nor indeed anyone that moves in my immediate circle and I suspect that Thomas Hardy was probably the last person ever to make use of it without sounding a pretentious twot. And I bet he wasn't describing such telegraph poles of pulchritude as these sent in by Openreach Engineer Daniel Ferrier who correctly guesses that they would be to our liking.
"They are situated outside Meigle Village in rural Perthshire opposite the Belmont Arms (PH12 8TJ) along what used to be the old railway line. There are at least 5/6 that i could see but I believe there are more further along. All of which are cross arm poles many of which still have the original insulators and wire connected along the route."
And there I was feeling really clever because I snapped a brilliant pole in South Wales that I was going to post today only to be completely blown away by these from Daniel. My one can wait. Time to check out the ale pumps at the Belmont Arms I think. Appreciate away folks...
Compliance with The Official Secrets Act meant that we’ve always had to obscure the name of our society’s Honorary Technical Adviser – Keith S**** was as much as we’ve ever been allowed to divulge and we could only ever show his photograph in sillhouette form. Until now that is.
Thanks to the thirty year rule various documents have recently been declassified so that we can, finally, reveal a bit more about the rank-holder H.T.A.T.P.A.S.
For starters, it turns out we’ve been using his real name all along – Keith S**** is actually what he’s called. Though I’m not quite sure how he pronounces it.
That same set of documents has uncovered the photo below from the mid 70s of a dashing, debonair Keith S**** inspecting a batch of fresh poles from Finland (pinus sylvestris) – ‘open stacked’ for seasoning.
The photo was taken at Blyth Pole Depot, Northumberland and for his role as pole inspector, Keith had to undertake an intensive language course to learn “Pitmatic” – the Geordie language of the coal mines. Many of the yard-workers, who provided assistance to Keith were ex-miners and their gutteral dialect was entirely unintelligble to to the rest of mankind – as well as to themselves.
In Pitmatic ‘cuddies and bogies’ were horse and carts, spuggies were sparrows, and aeroplanes were said to be ‘up a depth’. Apparently there is even a Geordie translation of the King James Bible which tells of the parting of the waters so the people of Israel could cross the sea in their ‘cuddies and bogies’.
Keith S**** learned Pitmatic like a native and still speaks it to this day in his native Rochdale – much to the confusion of his neighbours.
A bit like the football transfer window*1, we couldn’t close this off and announce the winner until we’d seen all the candidates. Now, with just 6 hours remaining, we are delighted to present for you, dear viewers, The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society’s Telegraph Pole of the Month for January 2018.
I should also like to share with you the accompanying, long hand letter from Norwich:
Please may I submit the attached image for consideration as your esteemed organisation’s Pole of the Month for January. Photographed in Sutherland on the third day of 2018 with the snow-capped Coire Gorm looming above the mists of Loch a’ Ghriama, the pole outside the remote Merkland telephone exchange resembled a forlorn post-festivity Christmas tree, its branches bare and shorn of ornaments and tinsel – or, in this case, insulators and all but a couple of wires.
At least, that’s how one member of the Norwich and District branch of the TPAS saw it. And as Mrs Bracegirdle was the only one of our party still capable of standing and focusing after the branch’s annual week-long Hogmanay celebrations near the fishing port of Kinlochbervie, she made marginally more sense than the rest of us.
W. Montgomery Stack
Do keep ’em coming dear connoisseurs. Poles like this almost extinct in the wild nowadays, about which David Attenborough and, indeed, the BBC are depressingly quiet. Remember though, please attach your photos to any emails you kindly send us rather than insert them into the text – the email masher seems to make them smaller and I have to magic them into a useable size with my special thingy (whose name escapes me for the moment). Send to email@example.com. We regret that at the moment we are no longer accepting photos of genitals.