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”

Telegraph Poles as Navigation Aids

Well, I’ve been banging on about this for years. Fact or fiction, that telegraph poles are aligned to have their insulators face towards London. There was evening a major film with Stoddart E. Schmelhausen in the title role of The Pole Liner you may recall. But really, always, without some real documentary evidence.

Until NOW that is. Thanks to the magic that is telegraph pole enthusiast Rick Howell. He tells us he was reading The Light Car Manual – published in 1914 when he came upon the nugget you see below.
We have feebly covered the topic on here before <here> and <here> and also within the weighty, sage tome Telegraph Pole Appreciation for Beginners which we absolutely insist you buy <here> because it is only £5.99 after all, and if you root around on this website you’ll find a further 10% discount code called IAMSKINT to use at the checkout. Thanks Rick for this epic find.

Pole of the Month – February 2019

The prestigious award of Pole of the Month is probably, by now, posthumous (for this pole).
Man of few words and pole contractor Graham Morgan sent us this photo of this eight-armed beauty he was sent to recover from the railway yard at Ashford, Kent. He says he doesn’t know what to do with it. He could always put a stamp on it and post it to me.
Alas, one of the few remaining 8-armers is no more.  We should consider changing our name to Telegraph Pole Preservation Society.

A telegraph pole with 8 cross arms about to be removed from Ashford railway yard in Kent.

Oban wan Kenobi*

If we had an annual awards ceremony (we don’t) and were to dish out prizes (we don’t) for telegraphic excellence then this wonderful example of post-retirement appropriation would undoubtedly win our prestigious Golden Pole Award (it didn’t, there’s no such thing).

Kenny McLennan, presumably from Oban, noticed contractors replacing his local (GPO 1940) DP1 and so he retrieved it (read purloined) and modified it as bird feeder for his rockery.  This is just fantastic Kenny.  We at TPAS HQ are inspired.  And the Tom Tits of Oban won’t know they’re born. Mind you that little scamp of a white doggie on the right there looks like he’s just left you something in your plant pot.

*Oban wan Kenobi.  I really thought that by the time I clicked the Publish button on this I would have come up with a witty headline.  As you can see I failed.

A former telegraph pole now rerouted as a bird feeder.
This year I will be passing through Oban twice.  #1 mid April, via the ferry terminal and heading for Barra, then north to Stornoway for my 3 week long expedition checking out poles of the Outer Hebrides (watch this space)  then #2 the Glenforsa Fly-in on on Mull, 24th & 25th May.  Refuelling at Oban probably.  If we make it that far that is, in a 1962 vintage Rallye Cub.  I’m telling you all this to give you all time to organise street parties and bunting and stuff.

Telegraph Pole Restoration II

No prizes for guessing what Prof of Telegraphpoleology Jake Rideout is going to do with these bits and pieces recovered from his local salvage yard (Frome presumably).  I’m told this will be a freestanding garden folly sort of affair and we are promised photos of the progress and finished product.  Watch this space.  And if you’re up for a bit of Friday evening, just before the Archers, telegraph pole porn, you could do worse than check out Jake’s Youtube channel.

Two wooden crossarms and a collection of telegraph pole crossarms parts awaiting restoration A collection of telegraph pole crossarms parts awaiting restoration

Pointy Poles in Porthmadog

A rubber stamp used for levels of appreciation of telegraph polesOoh!  Bit of a dilemma here.  You see, our TPAS motto is "If it's tall, wooden, sticky-uppy and got wires all coming out the top then it gets appreciated".  But then have a look at these fine finialed METAL beauties spotted recently in Porthmadog.  As you can see from my appreciation stamp I just had to tick the two boxes.  A sort of Schrödinger's appreciation - a superposition of appreciation and non-appreciation.

The final photo in the set - a close up of the background shows Cnicht, aka The Welsh Matterhorn.  A gorgeous climb where you can stand at the top with a magnificent view and look over and laugh at the queues for the trig-point on neighbouring Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa to us).

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.

 

Pole of the Month – September 2018

This lump of telegraphular gorgeousity can be found on the A470 just after the village of Llanelltyd a few miles north of Dolgellau, mid Wales. I've passed this pole many times over the years but just this once I was not actually in a dire rush. It's completely on its own and has been rather oxbowed by the road straightening. It escapes the Openreach axe on account of its holding up a phone wire to the house off the layby.  When I went to take these pics the man at the house came out especially to tell me how poor his broadband was.  Seems that's probably the lot of your average BT personnel.

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.

Pole of the Month – August 2018

Fahan, Co. Donegal

Just finishing up our annual jollydays in Ireland with a spot of getting-in-the-damn-way on board a sailing yacht on Lough Swilly - that's me in the lurid puke green in picture #4 - when Mrs TPAS, quite averse to getting-in-the-damn-way on a boat, stayed ashore.  Serendipitous, as she wouldn't otherwise have spotted this fine five-armer just outside Fahan Marina.  Completely overlooked by the Eircom telephone pole removals people as this was on a run of just one pole.

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