Thirsty Pole Watchers

A sudden letter of underwhelmment*1 this week from Jenny Tailyour recently returned from a journey of unenlightenment:

Dear Sir,
Given the legendary ferocity of their thirsts, your membership may be interested in a discovery made  during an otherwise disappointing  tour of the Scottish lowlands. Attached are photographs of unspectacular poles at Coldstream and North Berwick. The third photograph, however, represents a consummation devoutly to be wished by any lover of those two pillars of civilised society: telegraph poles and alcohol. Yes, finally, a telegraph pole you can actually drink. This bottle of Bush Telegraph comes from the Antipodes yet was found resting on the shelves of an out-of-the-way 'offie' in East Lothian.
It is now empty.
Yours,
Jenny Tailyour.

*1 Underwhelmment really should be a word.

Existential Angst

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."

   "I have been trying to locate some of the old S&T linesmen who worked the pole routes but finding that difficult. I would really like to know what the wires did at each location and was it by local knowledge or was there are record kept?"

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.

Kirkinch level crossing

Ardler Station Junction

Mike Mather's Adler Jn pic

 

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.

This week in telegraph pole land

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.

Pulchritudinous Perthshire Poles

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...

The Telegraph Poler’s Brain

The amygdala is a small but important region within the frontal temporal lobe of the human brain. This dense bundle of nerve tissue is thought to be part of the limbic system, responsible for our emotional responses, memory and survival instincts. What is less well known is the role it plays in the proper appreciation of telegraph poles. A double-blind study by Scientists at University of Port Vale-Nil discovered that subjects with a strong emotional attachment to redundant telecommunications equipment experienced a surge in activity within the β-adrenergic and glucocorticoid receptors when exposed to images of telegraph poles or ceramic insulators. Subjects who had previously declared indifference to such things demonstrated no such activity.

So if you were to cut out a lid from the top of Aaron Bailey's head, plunge your hand into the warm, moist interior and rummage around in all the jelly and stuff for two distinctly almond-shaped pieces of brain you would be holding an organ positively fizzing with love for all things telegraphpoleic.

This thought passed through my own frontal lobe when Aaron, from Hull, wrote in to tell us about his recent insulator hunt along the disused Hull and Barnsley railway line. For here he discovered various olde telegraph poles both standing and grounded and in various stages of decay. Pictures below. Aaron has previously reported on HCT (Hull Corporation Telephone) poles but could find no markings or dates on these but did notice that they were thick as well as short. I should point out here that it was Aaron and not me who mentioned that this was also how the ladies of Hull preferred their menfolk.

Aaron also recommended the pole you see in the last two pics as possible POTM. This slim, moss-covered pole in a relaxed position is on the Hull to Withernsea line. Complete with two crossarms, a pothead insulator and, until recently, two perfect 1940 GPO double-groovers. These by strong coincidence are now to be found in a jug of vinegar in Aaron's workshop. From here they will likely spend eternity surging activity in Aaron's glucocorticoids.

Anyway, sadly, our rules disqualify this pole from the Pole of the Month competition. Rule 7a[i, iii, iv] states that a pole must be tall, wooden, sticky-uppy and wires all coming out the top. This pole clearly fails on the first count insomuch as due to it's low lying position it would be described as wide rather than tall. Bad luck Aaron.

Cruel Cuts

This post has rather jumped our highly regulated in-house publication queue due to its intense ambrosial delectability.

These photos were sent in to us by Telegraph Pole top-tabler, member #666 Dave Bennett who was on his way to deliver some artwork to the National Truss at Avebury when he spotted this at Great Wishford, Wiltshire. No I’ve never heard of it either.

Evidently this pole has been neglected for decades – long enough for a good covering of ivy to grow – maybe due to cruel funding cuts. The essential pole info had been covered so the ivy has been chopped off ( much in the manner of the good old ‘basin-cut’ haircuts I suffered in the ’50’s – more cruel cuts!) but funds didn’t extend to trimming the rest of the pole thus leaving it in this caterpillar-like state. They’ll need a tree surgeon to climb this one.

Thanks Dave, that is a corker.

Now I also know this for a fact – Dave’s girlfriend Sally’s mate Trudy gave her husband a copy of Telegraph Pole Appreciation for Beginners (Key Stages 1-4) for Christmas and he said it was “the best Christmas present ever”.  Just saying…

Nude bee keeping

This week I have had an extended discourse and exchange of photographs with Geoff Hood.  Geoff keeps bees, and likes to tend to them wearing just his battered, wrinkly and ageing set of Emperor’s new clothes.  Like swimming in the arctic ocean, I imagine meithering a load of bees whilst wearing the sheerest of invisible fabrics can make one feel fully alive.  We are similar, Geoff and I, in our pursuit of naturist activities.  I have been known to remove all my clothing shortly before taking a bath.  I also have a penchant for nude arc-welding.

Anyway, our exchange was in three parts :

1. Geoff is a fan of LPTB Trollybus poles.  Of the 1938 variety.  And he found us through his research into sticky-uppy things – there we are with the naturism again!*1  He tells me there are only two left – in Ferry Lane, Tottenham.  These poles meet all our appreciating criteria in that they are tall, sticky-uppy and wooden, except that they carry no wires.  But 3 out of 4 is good enough for me, and the fact that there’re only these two left means they need appreciating all the more.

A trolly bus pole in TottenhamAnother trolly bus poleA street view of a trolly bus pole

Here we have different views of the same two poles.  Geoff says they were used up until 1960 as 600A DC, later 240V DC trolleybus poles.  He points out the light shield for train drivers in the 3rd photo. Apologies to that famous, non tax-paying search engine company whose photos we have purloined for educational purposes. 

And so to next part of our exchange:

2. A collection of photos of various track-side poles in Sri Lanka.  Now some of these are a bit out of focus.  This is either because Geoff was in a fast-moving train at the time, or because his hands were shaking following an extended session of bee-keeping whilst nude.  You decide. In no particular order of telegraphic scrumminess.  Enjoy.

{rapidgallery}srilanka{/rapidgallery}

3.  Our final exchange was a set of photos with a question: “What’s the purpose of the finials on the older poles like the one I am talking to you now? Did they hold cables for the old ceramic pots see photo or just rain protection? It is an quite old GPO pole 1950 36ft but still has a green climeable inspection plate 2013, the rest of the street were replaced in 2000.”

Well, as far as I know, wooden finials were a 1930s fashion thing – from a time when form actually over-ruled function.  The good old days, I think they’re often referred to.  But this being a 1950 pole, our readers may know different.

{rapidgallery}geoffhood{/rapidgallery}

*1  ba-doom…tish!

Radials in New Cross Gate

Please forgive my absence from these pages of late.  Running a major international Telegraph Pole Appreciating organisation such as ours can take me away from my desk for lengthy periods.  However, I’m back now and have tales to tell and photos of poles telegraph to share.

I might also add that we’ve been on the radio a bit just lately.  First on BBC Radio 5 Live who were doing a feature on “dull” pastimes.  I don’t know why they thought to contact us.  Anyway, the BBC’s politically correct remit required them to tick the female demographic checkbox and so they insisted on speaking to my wife, aka Mrs TPAS. She put them straight on a few things, especially the fact that, until then, they may have bracketed us as dull.  Our second radio appearance was on the breakfast show of Heart FM.  I have no idea when that went out as it was pre-recorded, and getting up in time for breakfast is something which happens to other people.  Anyway, apologies for not letting our readers know in advance either by twitter, this website or our facebook page. But hearing my recorded voice makes me cringe, so goodness knows what it must do to anyone else.

Anyway, back to the telegraph poles.  Chris Furby wrote to us recently enclosing these two photos.  They are, he says, the best of three in the New Cross Gate area of London.  Radial Distribution at its very best.  Thank you Chris. Hearing from Chris Furby however, reminded me that my daughter once had a mechanical battery powered talking teddy bear toy called a Furby.  It was a sort of animatronic thing which once first out of the box slowly learned to speak English.  Anyway, I came home one day to find that her elder brother, Tom, had skinned the thing alive and it was sitting there shivering in its metal skeleton.  But it’s language had come on leaps and bounds… “Shut the sodding door” it said as I came in, “it’s bloody freezing in here”.

A telegraph pole in New Cross Gate, London A telegraph pole in New Cross Gate, London
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