Pole of the Month – June 2019

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...

Closeup of the arms and insulators on a 1932 5 armed telegraph pole near Ruthin, North Wales.

TPAS Annual Telegraph Pole Expedition

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.

Treasure Trove in ‘Ull

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,

The round pole is on the side of a Hull and Barnsley railway bridge. He confesses to taking this photo from the queue at a drive through McDonalds (for goodness' sake)
The square pole is on the side of a viaduct on the Settle and Carlisle Railway whereupon he also found some insulators incl the LMS fatty you see here.
I really do envy urban dwellers this access to railway heritage.  I live so far from civilization that even the roads have petered out long before they get here. Denizens of these rural depths have been known to cross themselves whenever they see an aeroplane pass overhead and gasp excitedly when someone switches on one of these new electric light things.  Still, we keep being reminded that the 19th century is just around the corner.

* Must be a dialect thing

Pole of the Month – March 2019

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.

“Esteemed Sir,

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?

Faithfully yours,
Willie Montgomery Stack”

Visual Treats

Yes, Visual Treats - that was the subject of an email that landed on our metaphorical doormat recently.  Rick Howell from Exeter tells us that he has long been interested in those marvellous bits of British engineering - Cornish beam engines, gasworks, scraps of railway metallica, Austin Allegro.  And he says there's a small but subversive cell among his circle of friends who are interested in telegraph poles - or actually, anything that harks back to a time when we did things properly in this country.  He writes:

" ...having spotted a couple of TPs with insulators in my area of Devon still in use - kind of - I thought I'd check out whether a website existed for the delectation of those people who admire these things. And there is! So, since I have taken one or two pics pics of some examples I've have attached same. They're in a sort of order so here goes:

1, 2, 3. This is on the mine footpath that leads from the Warren House inn on Dartmoor to Vitifer Mine; probably last worked in the early part of the 20th century. OS 191.680809 if you like that sort of thing.

4, 5. A road that has been truncated by the '70s-built A361 North Devon link road at Knowstone Inner Moor. The road once connected Knowstone to Rackenford and since abandonment the poles have been left, wires attached to insulators. The poles are on a very exposed site and some are leaning with the prevailing wind. The bike is a Matchless G80 500 from 1948. OS 181.836218

6, 7, 8, 9. Shillingford Abbot, just outside Exeter; 2 poles connected to each other. A new run of poles heads uphill towards Exeter; the b&w picture was taken in about 1965 at the top of the hill looking the other way towards Haldon with it's Belvedere in the background and shows the original pole line. The sound of the recent gales through the wires really prodded my memory of those wires across the hilly Devon lanes. It may be that the pole in pic 6 and 9 was once on the other side of the road with it's strainer but sad to say that (I think?) 2 lads were killed in the late '60s when their Hillman Imp failed to take the corner at the bottom of the hill and hit the pole. OS192.911890"

Rick's final question is "Am I taking this too seriously?"  Nope.

Soar-y-Mynydd

A painting of the chapel at Soar-y-Mynydd by Ogwyn DaviesIn a previous life I was a Gong Farmer  - during the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth.  A miserable time it was too eking out an existence collecting the "night soil" but it did mean that in the interests of fairness I got a great deal this time around.  Proof of my blessed reincarnation is that I get to live in deepest middest Wales.

Here I can gaze up at poles of glorious loveliness along lonely lanes like those you see here.  These en route to Capel Soar-y-Mynydd.  Arguably the most isolated chapel in the whole of Wales.  It's a fabulous journey just getting there - and if you're a keen hiker of empty hills (like me) then this is approaching heaven.  These poles never had any cross-arms because there were so few inhabitants to connect to.

Soar is not uncommon name in Calvinistic parts of Wales.  It comes from the Holy lands story of Lot and the destruction of the wicked cities including Sodom and Gomorrah and Barnsley. Zoar was spared as it was only, as its name implies, a little city.*1

The chapel itself is the favoured subject of many artists - including the painting, left, by the late Ogwyn Davies.

Lastly, the photo of the phone box and associated pole, I included to remind readers of my previous visit here - this photo extracted from the truly remarkable tome "Telegraph Pole Appreciation for Beginners (Key Stages 1-4)"

*1 Officially the first proper fact ever shared on this website.