Always a delight to hear from our East Dorset Branch chair, Willie Montgomery Stack:
I came across this unusual telegraph pole recently while walking near Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales (and definitely NOT loitering, despite the words on the charge sheet; I intend to plead not guilty).
I am assured it is the sole remaining pole from the ill-fated Swaledale trunk route, a 40-mile line across the Pennines which locals say was doomed from the start. They warned the GPO that the terrain was highly unsuitable but their advice was seemingly ignored. Within weeks of the line's completion in 1953, half the poles had sunk into the disused lead mines which honeycomb the dale. One actually disappeared into the ground while an engineer was up it. They're still looking for him. Another, as it plunged into the earth in the village of Muker, dragged to destruction six bikes belonging to members of the Swaledale Cycling Club and a border terrier called Arthur, all of which had been left chained to the pole while their owners were in the Farmers Arms, Arthur's owner being the notorious drinker, womaniser and pugilist Algernon Swinson, then suffragan Bishop of Ripon.
Remarkably, this pole has taken a full 66 years to lose some 24 feet in height. But these could be the last photos taken of it. Its descent is finally accelerating, according to villagers. They mutter that it may vanish altogether by "Reeth fair twemmunth", whatever that means.
Yours, as ever,
Willie Montgomery Stack
E. Dorset T.P.A.S.
This pole first hit the national consciousness in 2011 when the supreme voting committee of The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society selected it as Pole of the Month for April of that year. Fast forward eight years - beyond the street parties and media attention that went with this fabulous accolade - to this most moist of mediocre summers. Despite it's large red D plaque and a BT recovery notice, this 1932, 28ft GPO giant stands defiant, resplendent with five crossarms and a mishmash of insulators all the time carrying absolutely no wires whatsoever. Serenely and elegantly it keeps watch over the village of Pwllglas and the A494 which whizzes along beneath its sentinel gaze.
Meine Damen und Herren, I give you Pole of the Month, June 2019...
Outer Hebrides, Barra to Butt of Lewis (April/May 2019)
Yes, you all missed the chance to burgle my house while I was away. And the key was under the mat the whole time. Not just me but the entirety of Telegraph Pole Towers took the high road to the top left hand corner of Great Britain. In order to avoid the M6, we drove first overnight to Holyhead for an early ferry to Dublin. Drove to Donegal just for a laugh and because I was promised a pint of something special. Then caught a ferry Larne to Cairnryan. Drove north to Oban. Camped the night in Taynuilt station car park. 5 hour ferry to Castlebay, Barra for week #1 in a cottage next the airport beach. Then ferry from Northbay, Barra to Eriskay and week #2 cottage on South Uist. Thence ferry from Berneray to Leverburgh (Harris) and drive north for week #3 at Tolstachaolais, Lewis. All finished off with a stinking campervan meander homewards via the B roads of Scotland over 3 days with a dash along the nasty and unavoidable M6 bit.
Herewith telegraph pole encounters of our trip. Click images to enlarge and see captions.
Regulars to these pages will, by now, know that Aaron Bailey (who has dropped the H from Hull*) is a regular rummager along deceased and non-deceased railway lines for telegraphular artefacts. Indeed, he has a Pole of the Month (May 2018) to his credit. There follows the photos from his latest jaunt - one in which his particular interest was poles that are attached to the side of railway bridges,
* Must be a dialect thing
TPAS Agent #0893, Nick Clarkson, had his eye on this particular piece for some time. Waiting on just that moment when the furniture shop twigged this wasn't the next big-seller they'd imagined and dropped the price sufficiently for the tight-of-fist.
As the new owner of this spectacular all-metal "installation" measuring 82 x 46 cm Nick tells us how its presence on his living room wall gives him so much pleasure, whilst at the same time having a bizzare effect on his missus - insomuch as she has taken to dressing as an Acadian Flycatcher and runs around the lawn. I'll leave those who know Agent #0893 to ask for clarification on that one.
Nick was concerned that he may have over-egged it when he first wrote to describe this thing that hangs upon his wall. No need to worry there old chap. Telegraph pole related objects, particularly d'art, can never be over-egged in my opinion.
“I noticed this pole in Norden near to my home in Rochdale. I think from experience it is probably an 11 metre medium pole, cannot be sure as unusually it has no cutting in, perhaps cutting in was abandoned. It used to be quite an art to etch a pole’s length and class clearly cleanly and quickly with a curved chisel.It drew my attention because of the unusually large number of cables connected to it, there are in fact forty! the most I have ever seen in my many years of pole observation.
I hope you will find this of interest. I had to fill my pensioner phone with boiling water so it would boil quickly and enable me to capture this image while the sky was blue.
Way too grainy a photo to be considered for pole of the month – but 40 drop wires? Bring on the challengers. I’ve even started a new post category for this.
What’s this – Pole of the month two months in succession? We are grateful, not to mention gladdened, always, to receive missives from the East Dorset Branch of T.P.A.S. and this time even more so as they have provided us with this splendiferous p.o.t.m. I shall leave you in the delightful company of East Dorset Chair, Willie Montgomery Stack for the rest of this post to describe this serendipitous chance-upon.
Can a post be a pole? And might this one be the last surviving example of its type?
During the Spring half term outing of the TPAS East Dorset branch last week, our members stumbled across a truly remarkable edifice which we would like to bring to your attention. Approaching a road junction a stone’s throw from Coverham Abbey in North Yorkshire, our members glimpsed with delight a proud array of cross arms and insulators. Naturally we all leapt from the tour bus to take a closer look but it was several seconds before we realised that, while it meets the TPAS’s strict criteria of being wooden and sticky-uppy, the thing is distinctly unpole-like in one respect. Rather than being rounded (part of the Oxford English Dictionary definition of a pole), it is SQUARE in section, resembling a railway signal post rather than a telegraph pole. It is a distribution pole (DP 2) for the tiny Coverdale telephone exchange and was clearly stuck there by the GPO, although no further identifying marks can be seen upon it.
Our excitement knew no bounds at its discovery. Mrs Pringle was heard to remark that she’d never been so grateful for Tena Lady. And we are all agreed we haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else.
Have any other members ever chanced upon such a thing, and might you be willing to consider it as a candidate for Pole of the Month, if not the decade?
Willie Montgomery Stack”
Well, I’ve been banging on about this for years. Fact or fiction, that telegraph poles are aligned to have their insulators face towards London. There was evening a major film with Stoddart E. Schmelhausen in the title role of The Pole Liner you may recall. But really, always, without some real documentary evidence.
Until NOW that is. Thanks to the magic that is telegraph pole enthusiast Rick Howell. He tells us he was reading The Light Car Manual – published in 1914 when he came upon the nugget you see below.
We have feebly covered the topic on here before <here> and <here> and also within the weighty, sage tome Telegraph Pole Appreciation for Beginners which we absolutely insist you buy <here> because it is only £5.99 after all, and if you root around on this website you’ll find a further 10% discount code called IAMSKINT to use at the checkout. Thanks Rick for this epic find.
The prestigious award of Pole of the Month is probably, by now, posthumous (for this pole).
Man of few words and pole contractor Graham Morgan sent us this photo of this eight-armed beauty he was sent to recover from the railway yard at Ashford, Kent. He says he doesn’t know what to do with it. He could always put a stamp on it and post it to me.
Alas, one of the few remaining 8-armers is no more. We should consider changing our name to Telegraph Pole Preservation Society.
If we had an annual awards ceremony (we don’t) and were to dish out prizes (we don’t) for telegraphic excellence then this wonderful example of post-retirement appropriation would undoubtedly win our prestigious Golden Pole Award (it didn’t, there’s no such thing).
Kenny McLennan, presumably from Oban, noticed contractors replacing his local (GPO 1940) DP1 and so he retrieved it (read purloined) and modified it as bird feeder for his rockery. This is just fantastic Kenny. We at TPAS HQ are inspired. And the Tom Tits of Oban won’t know they’re born. Mind you that little scamp of a white doggie on the right there looks like he’s just left you something in your plant pot.
*Oban wan Kenobi. I really thought that by the time I clicked the Publish button on this I would have come up with a witty headline. As you can see I failed.
This year I will be passing through Oban twice. #1 mid April, via the ferry terminal and heading for Barra, then north to Stornoway for my 3 week long expedition checking out poles of the Outer Hebrides (watch this space) then #2 the Glenforsa Fly-in on on Mull, 24th & 25th May. Refuelling at Oban probably. If we make it that far that is, in a 1962 vintage Rallye Cub. I’m telling you all this to give you all time to organise street parties and bunting and stuff.