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.

The Great Inbox Tidy up, 2018.

You know that drawer you have in your kitchen cabinet? - we've all got them - the one with a bit of everything in it:  a long-run out biro; some postage stamps torn off and saved you said you were going to send to the guide-dogs; an old ticket to a show you mistakenly believe is a souvenir; a ball of used blue-tac wrapped in a bit of greaseproof paper; 4 lengths of different coloured string; a collection of rubber bands the postie dropped on your path; a plastic chip fork; a calculator with a missing #4 key; long since expired raffle ticket to win a meat voucher; a plastic bag containing half-burned birthday candles; an old pre-usb phone connector cable; a blisterpack of paracetamol with just one left in it; some saved paperclips; a sachet of some liquid could be a sauce from a takeaway, or oil for your sewing machine.  Either way it's leaked and gummed all the aforementioned items together.  Yes, that drawer.

Well this post is a bit like that.  I've collected together loads of bits of emails and letters from our avid readers that I didn't know what to do with before - and the senders thereof probably thinking they sent it into a black hole.  So if something you sent us in the last few months isn't somewhere in this post, then it probably did end up in a black hole.  When you see the miscellaneous nature of some of these or the quality of some (not all) of the photos you'll understand why I wondered what to do with them.

Many thanks to all, as ever, for your kind submissions.  It might take us an epoch or two but we get them posted in the end.

Carey Smith

A leaning telegraph pole underneath an azure skyWas out on a morning walk with the dogs that we are looking after and walked that little bit further than usual... What a treat!
( I was then looking up whether 'telegraph pole' was the correct term...and found your website...and scrolled down to find a picture taken on the railway near Williton in Somerset...where I grew up!)
...I don't suppose you have a sister site appreciating manhole covers do you??...they are my other penchant!!

Well the email subject says Poles of Le Marche Italy.  The words Le and Marche are French.  The sky is blue, so it's not Wales.  Carey is from Yahoo if that narrows it down a bit. Carey says it was taken yesterday if that is any help.

To answer your question re Manhole Appreciation...  We're a bunch of feminists here at TPAS - my wife says so - and may well be starting a personhole appreciation society any day now.

David Reynolds

A telegraph pole dated 1885 in SmethwickI know for a fact David Reynolds is wondering what the hell happened to the email he sent back in August.  David, of weather-forecasting fame and avid insulatorist and pole connoisseur attached this photo of a telegraph pole in Smethwick, dated 1885. Now, he took this photo in 2001 so I would say it's 50/50 whether or not it's still there.  It would be the record holder if it is - as the oldest pole we at TPAS Towers have on record is dated 1893 (p109 Telegraph Pole Appreciation for Beginners, Arenig Press, £5.99)

So if you're from Smethwick, or are passing through, do check this one out.  It should be easy to find - it's got a brick wall behind it and some green stuff, looks like leaves of some sort.

Edward Jones

 

A pole on the side of a barn or something

The caption with this photo said simply "Bottomless pole a farmer decided to airlift this pole"

I'm going to try to value add a little to this tiny photo.  Er... nope, can't think of anything else to say, sorry.

Edward Jones #2

 

A 62 pole in a field somewhere.

Actually, right at the bottom of my inbox, and stuck to an elastoplast where some of the backing paper has come off, I find this photo also sent in by Edward Jones.  The email is simply titled Old Pole with the caption "I came across this line pole feed from orrell ete*".  (??) In another photo from the same email, I see a '62 date.  So, ahem, I was born before then, so it can't be old.  It CAN'T be old !!

*  Erratum:  It's Orrell ATE (Automatic Telephone Exchange - ie there are no ladies plugging wires into circuit boards)

Gary Straiton

A sign at the entrance to Miley Urban Wildlife Reserve, ScotlandGary, member #0829, has a penchant for old railway lines.  Especially ones with poles extant. Might be of interest, he says.  Yes, Gary, definitely.
The  remaining section of the Dundee (Ninewells Junction) to Ardler / Alyth Junction finally closed in 1967. Part of the route in Dundee is now a pathway and known as the “Miley”.
Of particular gratification ( to me anyway) is that some effort has been made to explain the railway artifacts still to be found. Including telegraph poles. However I didn’t see any “erectus” with a few lying on the ground.
Ahem! We'll overlook the use of the term erectus just this once.  Scotland seems to have all the best bits of disused railways.  I demand a referendum or something.

Mr Red

A placard nailed to a telegraph pole saying UTEC PATROLLEDWe'll catalogue this email from Mr Red under Fringe.  Mr Red likes to hunt for OS Bench Marks - those little up-turned crows feet things my prison uniform used to have all over it.   Mr Red also likes the use of post scriptum. Three in this particular email.  Anyway, re his UTEC placard - I've seen these before but can't remember where.  It's nailed to a telegraph pole so it's in as far as I'm concerned:

I too found 3 of these cast iron markers in Gloucester, whilst hunting OS Bench Marks. Doubtless there are others.  What I have seen a lot of is concrete posts, usually with the same OS style arrow bearing lead characters in a John Bull printing set "style". ft & in - IMNSHO, would suggest something up or along by that dimension Maybe you would know better than my guess. But up would indicate overhead wires in my imagination. The cast iron variety have the same ft & in thingy and one lurking behind a modern lamppost is definitely Elizabethan (II of this era). Cnr Alvin St & London Rd.

I have seen a website based on Brighton where the webmeister has assumed OSBMs. http://www.buildingopinions.com/2014/12/02/ordnance-survey-bench-marks/
But yes I would like chapter and as many verses on these too. What have you found?

Mr Red
http://benchmarks.mister.red

PS might this JPG show something spurious and unfathomable or something significant?
PPS we have redundant poles along the Stroudwater, one marked dating from 1902 - or what's left of it.
PPPS Howard Beard, local photo collector, has an image that may date from the installation of poles in Stroud. Wires not visible and maybe not there at the time. He dates it to the opening of the telephone exchange in Russell St.

A quick google of UTEC says "UTEC is a dynamic, forward-thinking and fast-growing organization.  It is one of the world’s largest independent survey companies"  So there.

Gary G7SLL

Telegraph Pole DP317G7SLL might sound like it's a Gloucestershire postcode but it is, in fact a radio ham callsign.  And a quick rummage on a well known internet search engine tells us that Gary Peach, G7SLL is a rocket scientist and the inventor of a type of slide rule for measuring the temperature on the moon.  I kid you not.  This goes some way to explaining the rather eccentric manner of our semi-recent communication which started with him asking if I knew where DP317 was.

[TPAS] No idea where DP317 is. Possibly not too far from DP316, but that's just a guess.
[G7SLL] now there’s a guess with a high probability of success.  But I’ll not put any of my money on it. The GPO were a law unto themselves, thus the “YIT”, ( Youth In Training), may have maid a mistake.
[G7SLL] I could show you a good picture of a Pole, if you can wait for her to come out of goal. Instead I’ll show you a pole instead. Wince I telegraphed that one, “BLUSH” and it is almost outside of my House in Newbury, West Berks, RG14 5NR

{This bit about Nancy Mitford's knickers censored because Mrs TPAS reads this too}

[G7SLL] Once upon a time the person in the closest house was England’s first champion Lady Jockey, “Betty Richards” daughter of Cliff R, ( not the pop star), niece of Sir Gordon Richards, England’s Champion Jockey, a LOT. What a lovely lady was Betty…. RIP
A line coming directly from DP 317 into this URL 😊
Now, why would they label this pole twice; (SEE picture)?
It is plane to see this pole has the sheiks.
Wooden tit make a chump laugh? so don’t monkey with me.
Gary, G7SLL, wins the 2018 prize for the most bonkers email received this year.  For all time, actually.

 

John Brunsden (#0469H)

Regular correspondent, and alpine pole climber, John sent us these two pics from his archives:

#1 A display of blocks pole in an exchange somewhere and #2 us (ie his crew) and the Devon boys working with Western Power in sunny Beaford last year.

A telegraph pole block display in a telephone exchange.View from atop a telegraph pole of BT Openreach workers in Beaford, Devon.

 

The poles of Islay…

And Colonsay, and Jura and Arran.  Yes, The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society is back from its annual pole festival - and just in time for Appreciation Day too (September 21st).  Turns out it's unimaginable that anyone would visit Islay for anything but the distillery tours (9 and counting).  When I said that we were there just to look at telegraph poles they suggested I must already have been at an extended malt tasting session.  Honest, that island and its visitors are whisky bonkers.  Mostly male visitors from Japan, Scandinavia and (inevitably) USA formed queues to strip to their trunks and dive into the huge copper vats of peated malt whisky then talk bollocks about top notes of butterscotch and salted lemon peel.  Then they complained of kidney pain and passed out.

Anyway, while they were doing all that, they missed out on the terrific lines of olde poles that can be found on this Hebridean gem.  We found further, albeit fewer, interesting poles on neighbouring islands. Here is a splendid photo gallery of edited highlights for you.  I haven't put captions on any of them because I have a banging headache still.

Towering Topsham Telegraph Pole

There was a touch of synchronicity about a couple of emails which crossed my desk here at Telegraph Pole Towers this last week or so*1. The first from Mike Shephard from Devon;

"Do you have this surviving "big stick" on record?  The telephone exchange used to be in the main street of TOPSHAM near EXETER, from 1912 to 1949. First, as a manual exchange, then, later from the 1930s, as an auto DSR exchange in the Exeter numbering group. The automatic exchange moved to a new site in the town around 1949. It is still there.

The D.P. 1 stout pole has no date marking that can be seen. The local museum thinks it may date from WW1 era, because a relative of someone who is still alive was involved in the pole's installation. The pole was once even taller than today. The top part of the pole was cut off where 8-way arms once stood. Other 8-way arms were set below them at right-angles. The cut-out positions of the lower 8-way arms can still be seen intact.

Noteworthy are the terminal blocks, which are accessible at ladder height, without the need to scale the whole pole. Good thinking. The pole was last tested in 2013, and is marked "D" Defective.  A giant of a bygone age, towering over the rooftops. And still standing proud after maybe a century ?"

Then, in the exact same geological era came this from Mike Trout, also of Devon;

"I have always understood that my Grandfather Walter Finlay Wilson installed a very tall telegraph pole in Trees Court, a tiny yard behind the then Telephone exchange in Topsham. Dia about 17" & over 60 ft tall. People have wondered ever since how it was got into the courtyard, as it is surrounded by 3 storey shop & houses and when. It has a red metal plate on it about 5ft up it with no 3, no 13 & IJK all punched out of it. Below that there is a small sign saying DP1 and small round metal disk with D on it. Can you give us any ideas about when it was installed?"

Surely these two emails are, mutually, self-answering and so I don't need to? But to answer Mike Shephard's first question, yes, we did have it on record already - agent  Brunsden, John, #0469, shaken, not stirred, sent us this excited video with his interpretive comments:

"An unmarked 'D' stout pole...look at all those steps !!! I don't know how they managed to get it up in that location all those years ago, and I would not like to have to renew it! The video does not really do justice to the length and girth of this old pole!!"

*1Loosest, most exaggerated, definition of "last week or so" - it was July actually.

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...

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