Jeremy Boot has a keen eye and an interest in vintage townscapes. He wrote to us of the largely forgotten practice of putting telegraph poles at rooftop levels in large cities. At some point this ceased, he told us, presumably as more and more cables were laid underground. Here's a couple of examples he pointed us to. Credits to Nottingham Archaelogy twitter feed for the first and to flashbak.com for the Picadilly Circus photo. You have to squint to see the pole in either pic.
We haven't done one of these for a while.
This really is a celebration of the mundane. This charming, simple and unassuming 1958 GPO 24ft Light pole has never carried so much as a single volt of electricity. For its nigh on 60 years its role has been as stay to the larger, more important pole, across the lane. Pole senior carries phone and fibre-optic all the way down said lane and right past my house where only the telephone wire stops off but not the fibre. I am only slightly bitter, twisted and sick to the stomach about this though.
The pole was last checked in August 2012 and is free from D plate but it does have quite a lean and can't be much support to the big one. Anyway. It's not big, it's not dramatic, but I appreciate it in all its nondescript glory and so do the sheep judging by its own shaggy stay wire. So herewith, Pole of the Month October 2017 at Rheidol reservoir near Aberystwyth, Wales.
This is the book you’ve all been waiting for. And probably your entire lives if only you knew it. Prize-winning*1 author Martin Evans has put together 150 pages of the finest, most colourful, most distalgesic telegraphic information and other stuff about your favourite tall wooden sticky-uppy things. Many years in the making. It’s got 150 shiny pages, a front, a back, an inside as well as an outside and words galore. Plus we know you love facts so we’ve put in some of those as well. This is the book that just keeps on giving.
Here are three words that the publishers used to describe this book:
Here are three more words. The ones the publishers didn’t use.
Order one today and you’ll also receive some free love sent in your direction by our in-house giver of love, Mrs T. All this and a beautiful wealth-enhancing price tag specially selected just for you. <CLICK HERE> to get yours now.
Orders restricted to 100 copies per customer. Sorry, but we are having to be strict on this one.
*1 Low Jump competition, Bronington Primary School, 3rd Place; British Sausage Time wrist watch prize draw: 1st place; 12 tins Kattomeat in Wrexham Evening Leader wordsearch competition, ca 1983: 1st place; Gallon of 5W-30 engine oil in Betws school PTA evening tombola: so 1st again.
**IMPORTANT** IF YOU WANT THE AUTHOR TO SIGN YOUR BOOK, PLEASE SAY WHO AND WHAT ETC. IN THE NOTES ON CHECKOUT. IF MR EVANS HAS ARISEN FOR THE DAY I’LL DO IT THEN.
Oo-er this all looks a bit new doesn’t it? Different colours, different layout, different something else but ultimately the same old nonsense being spouted and that’s what’s important.
We’ve also got a shop now. Why not pop along and browse our endless aisle of TPAS merchandise and continuously click the buttons therein until you run out of cash. We will love you all the more for it.
Haven’t got around to fixing some of the old galleries yet, and some of the olde links may still be dead but they’ll be tidied up in due course.
And if anyone has any hassle with the shop thingy, do let us know – it’s all smoke and mirrors to us anyway but we’ll stab a few buttons here and there and see if we can make something happen.
Finally… The telegraphic excitement we’ve been teasing you about is getting very close now.
SEPT 21st. Society Member #666, Dave Bennett writes: “I thought you’d like to see that we devotees of The Cause in Wiltshire, are celebrating TPAS DAY at Pole-Henge just up the road from me. This was the scene at first light this morning with folk already assembling for the Big Sunrise when thousands are expected. There is more security this year but it was established that the minor crowd trouble last year was entirely due to a few hotheads from the Pylon Appreciation Society – metal morons !
Anyway, Congratulations to our founders and best wishes to all on this our most auspicious of days !!”
HAPPY TELEGRAPH POLE APPRECIATION DAY.
Great news from Berkshire this week – the RG5 postcode to be moderately specific. RG5 6LN to be more specific and the naugahyde chair by the writing desk in the corner of the front bedroom at No. 67 Kensall Rise, RG5 6LN would be about as specific as anyone could ever ask for and likely more than our readers need. But I made up the bit of the postcode after RG5 anyway – so Reading-ish. My dad always said to me “Son, when you’re in a hole – keep digging.”John Smith* from RG5 couldn’t tell us about this great news though until after his good wife Jane had woken from her nap. To cut a short story really long it seems they found a run of 1904 poles and sent us the pictures you see below. They can be found at Turville, near the Cobstone windmill. The poles, not John & Jane – see sentence #1.
Now, 1904 seems to be something of a lower limit for dated telegraph poles. It is NOT absolute though – see footnote. The telegraph as a system of communication would have been at its height in 1904 and whilst amplitude modulation for voice and music were demonstrated in 1900, radio was a long way from obviating the need for the telegraph – and its poles. 1904 was the heady Edwardian era and a time when the world was having to come to terms with the idea of Doncaster Rovers failure to be re-elected to the football league. This was also the year that the United States of America paid Mexican president Porfirio Diaz, $14 million for the entire territory that is New Mexico. It was only when they got home and checked that they discovered that they already owned it.
Footnote #1: I have it on good authority that these are NOT the oldest poles out there. More on this in due course. Meanwhile, enjoy John & Jane’s fine Berkshire telegraph poles – they’re in Buckinghamshire it turns out after all. (click to enlarge)
Footnote #2: I had a really funny joke for this post but my wife made me take it out. So just imagine something really funny and laugh along anyway if you want.
Footnote #3: Names changed to protect the innocent (until proven guilty)
Either the start of the walk or one of the poles. And one of the poles – serving suggestion, finger not included.
Look carefully – double D plates. Fear the worst for this one. And again, helpful pointer to the 1904 date.
Campbell Brodie knows a bit about poles. Former GPO to Overhead Survey Officer for BT up there in Dunfermline Athletic Nil. According to my pre-school arithmetic levels I make that 41 years looking at telegraph poles. We owe much of our telegraphular wisdom at this here website to Campbell for sure. Anyway, he has written in for the first time in a while – prompting me to make the first post in a while… He was recently sent to do a survey to recover 3 telephone poles and says “These beauties have been up since 1910. Showing signs of decay now so they have to come down”. [click to enlarge]Any advance on 1910?
Our astute readers will have noticed that we have been rather quiet recently. The reason for this can now be made clear – The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society has upped-sticks and moved headquarters. All departments, stock, staff, stuff and our entire appreciating apparatus. Prior to this we were housed in a tranquil backwater in Mid Wales but this proved a little too boisterous for our tender hearts so we went Wester and even Midder into Wales. This valley is so deep that the sun appears only briefly around 17th June, before sinking us back into darkness again come the 25th. But the internet here is a revelation – where previously we had to type stuff in ourselves – I now phone a friend in Aberystwyth and dictate what we want to say and he does the internet thing for us. Marvellous!
May 1st means there’s only about 7 weeks until our “sunrise” celebrations. But to help you celebrate May Day – where the rest of you have trees and flowers and that – here is a lovely May Pole submitted by our tub-thumping, rust gathering morris-dancing Wiltshire correspondent Dave Bennett. Coincidentally, Dave has the membership number #666 – which is that of the Prince of Darkness himself, so it is apt we post this now. The pole was spotted in North St. Wilton, Wiltshire and brought Dave back – a really long way back – to his school’s pagan festivals and fertility dances. (We just had Geography and a school disco). Dave then went on to describe suffocating bondage, slow garrotting and incadescent screaming by Mrs Salter – and this, apparently, was all at the village school. Does the Daily Mail know what goes on in Wiltshire?
Happy May Day to All.
When Current Archaeology magazine published an article about our sagiest of societies back in 2015 poet Margaret Seymour found true inspiration. Her poem, reproduced here by kind permission, won first prize at the Sheringham poetry competition. So thanks to our ramblings, a myriad insulators, and the intrinsic beauty that is telegraph poles, these 152 words were selected out of all the thousands that are available and were assembled into the beautiful and unique, prize-lifting order that you see below. Congratulations and special thanks to Margaret. I’ve illustrated the whole occasion with a photo of a line of poles in Donegal. And some gorse. And Slieve Snaght in the background.
knows poetry when it sees it – the epic
march of metre, neat crossbar rhyme-schemes
embellished with ceramic references
to fungi, daleks, Chinese lanterns;
long lilting lines punctuated by swallows.
It’s fond of folklore such as crossbars
are always on the side facing London.
It loves the drama of the telegram,
whistle and crackle of the human voice.
urgent pitter-pat of Morse,
the arcane doings of Openreach.
Its totems are the trunks of trees –
wayside gods inscribed with tribal marks
BT or GPO, plus date of last libation
of creosote. She of the high and shaky
brackets orders DO NOT CLIMB.
He of the yellow skull warns DANGER OF DEATH.
Happy the members of TPAS! For them
a road or railway is a procession
of curiosities, a document, a refuge
where ivy flourishes and kestrels perch,
a photographic pilgrimage where finally
lines of posts are enshrined as posts online.