In search of the holy grail

I’ve categorized this post under vintage.  You see, it’s about our Honorary Technical Adviser Sir Keith S**** H.T.A. T.P.A.S (Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 prohibits me from printing his real name).  But anyway, what we do know about this mysterious Rochdale-based former pole inspector is that he used to be a pole inspector and is from Rochdale.  By pole inspector we don’t mean the jolly BT chap who knocks the base with a hammer to see if it’s rotten or not – no, Sir Keith, before retirement, travelled the northern hemisphere inspecting entire forests in sub-arctic arboreal landscapes in order to select timber suitable for making into telegraph poles.
These trees once harvested and cut to length had the initials of the inspector chiselled into the butt of the, by now, preserved pole.
And so Keith wrote this week to tell us of his eternal quest to find just one such retired telegraph pole somewhere that has his initials on the butt.  For it his plan to take off a slice and make into a display for his not inconsiderable mantlepiece.  He has scoured the internet, and wrote to Kilgraney (it wouldn’t send) and so appeals to us to send out an SOS appeal to all BT & telegraph pole contractors to check their stack of recovered poles for one bearing the initials K.S.  To help you identify a pole butt with KS here is an artists impression of a pole with KS on it, yesterday.  Come on pole gangs, let’s make his day.
The butt of a telegraph pole bearing the initials KS

Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ears

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

A Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, yesterday

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.

Kentish Beach find

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.