Pole of the Month – March 2018

We seem to have missed out February's Pole of the Month.  It's only a short month, and my attention span is such that entire years can pass me by so a tiddly little month like February is nothing.

Anyway, we were traversing the dark underbelly of Wales from Brecon back to Aberystwyth via Llandovery and Lampeter and the badlands in-between.  And just where the A482 leaves the A40 is Llanwrda - and March's P.O.T.M.  Glorious it is too.  Had the effect of causing a screech of brakes, a burnt rubber smell and the utterance "for Christ's sake" from Mrs TPAS.  You don't need to have a near fatal accident in order to view it - simply go on a popular internet street view application and have a look for yourself.  A worthy winner.  I couldn't find anybody there to congratulate them, so if you're going that way do please tell them.

Click an image to see it in glorious bigness.

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.

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...

Pole of the Month – January 2018

A bit like the football transfer window*1, we couldn’t close this off and announce the winner until we’d seen all the candidates.  Now, with just 6 hours remaining, we are delighted to present for you, dear viewers, The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society’s Telegraph Pole of the Month for January 2018.

I should also like to share with you the accompanying, long hand letter from Norwich:

Kind Sir,
Please may I submit the attached image for consideration as your esteemed organisation’s Pole of the Month for January.  Photographed in Sutherland on the third day of 2018 with the snow-capped Coire Gorm looming above the mists of Loch a’ Ghriama, the pole outside the remote Merkland telephone exchange resembled a forlorn post-festivity Christmas tree, its branches bare and shorn of ornaments and tinsel – or, in this case, insulators and all but a couple of wires.
At least, that’s how one member of the Norwich and District branch of the TPAS saw it. And as Mrs Bracegirdle was the only one of our party still capable of standing and focusing after the branch’s annual week-long Hogmanay celebrations near the fishing port of Kinlochbervie, she made marginally more sense than the rest of us.
Yours affectionately,
W. Montgomery Stack

Do keep ’em coming dear connoisseurs.  Poles like this almost extinct in the wild nowadays, about which David Attenborough and, indeed, the BBC are depressingly quiet.  Remember though, please attach your photos to any emails you kindly send us rather than insert them into the text – the email masher seems to make them smaller and I have to magic them into a useable size with my special thingy (whose name escapes me for the moment). Send to martin@telegraphpoleappreciationsociety.orgWe regret that at the moment we are no longer accepting photos of genitals.

*1 Ok, not at all like the football transfer window, it’s just that I’m in confused focus at the moment due to our need of a decent midfielder and it looks like we might have just signed Nicky Deverdics from Hartlepool Utd FC.  In the nick of time too.

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…

The Great North Road

BBC online have been doing a bit of a feature, of late, about the A1(M) which runs from London, north and into Scotland. Well this paragon of tarmac tedium was preceded by an altogether more romantic route called the Great North Road. Littered with coaching Inns, quaint villages, hand-pumped petrol stations and myriad telegraph poles this road took rather more of a meander to get to the same place.  Until, that is, the demands of the motorist widened it and took all the bends out.

Secretary of Norwich and East District TPAS, John Cranston (#0620), alerted us to the existence of the delightful film you see below. Shot in 16mm by Colonel Lionel Paten in 1939 who was expecting the imminent war to make a bit of a mess of the old place so set out to capture it as it was.  “…The poles just get more scrumptious as the cameraman gets further from London”, said John, “Watch as he eventually decides to set up his camera in front of his parked car and not behind the bloody thing every time.  A few minutes of silent heaven.”  And this it truly is.  I promise you will gasp, your spectacles will turn a rosy hue and your eyes will mist… or you’ll reach for the off switch.

This youTube representation also holds the world record for the quickest descent into racist bigotry within its comments section.  From the very first, those emboldened by recent political upheavals were at it like rabid bull terriers with their trolling hatred, xenophobia and bile.  As a species we deserve everything we get.  Mr Cranston was rather less sanguine about the levels of vile acerbity and I’m still wiping his metaphorical spittle from my lug-holes!

(Twiddle all you like, you’ll get no sound out of this video)



The Fabled Lost Pole of Bala Leisure Centre

We’ve had a fabled lost tape-measure in this house for many years now – last seen when putting some shelves up under the stairs. Apparently, it’s right where I left it according to Mrs TPAS.

Anyway another futile hunt for same earlier put me in mind of a conversation I once had with Ged McCarthy the old pole prospector from them thar Mersey hills. We were sat around his camp fire in a layby on the B5105 late one night, eating beans from a tin and retelling tales about poles of yore, stay wires, double grooves and all that when he started to scratch out a map in the dirt on the back of his van and proceeded to mark an X.

“Ooh aar!”, he said, “Arr!”, he insisted, “Arr! here be found the remains of the fabulously fabled five-armed pole of Bala Leisure Centre.” {further oohs and arrs omitted for brevity} “Lost for many a year in the undergrowth it be, and nobody that has set eyes upon it has ever lived longer than a lifespan.” he warned. My spine chilled – Ged’s mate Deggsie had spilled Special Brew all down my back.

So magnificent is this pole that back in the 1920s they used to run bus trips to see it. People came from as far away as Norwich to gaze upon its tall wooden sticky-uppy grandeur. Slowly, though, fashions changed, fibre broadband arrived and BT Openreach came along and stuck a ‘D’ plate on it and its fabledness became lost to mankind.

Not any longer, because now you can light up the walls in your office/lounge/kitchen/bedroom/massage parlour with our reproduction of the original art-deco unoriginal fabled tour poster of the day. These come in A2 size (420 x 594 mm), unframed, satin finish all posted in a lovely refreshing cardboard tube. Just what your Christmas pressie idea head-scratching was looking for and only £8.99 plus p&p. And while you’re doing your Crimbo shopping you really ought to stock up on our diamond-encrusted*1 Telegraph Pole Appreciation for Beginners book. Key Stages 1-4 will delight, amuse, educate and something else your appreciative gift recipient – and they might just buy you something much nicer in return.
And if you enter the code IAMSKINT during checkout you’ll get 10% off everything – yes, everything: posters, memberships, mugs, books, everything. So just buy everything. What are you waiting for?The fabled lost pole of bala leisure centre
*1 We use only the finest homeopathic diamonds to encrust our books.

Scaled down brilliance

posted in: Art, models | 0

A rare thing it is for me to be so moved as I was when I received the photo below this last week.  This was sent to us by TPAS member #0654 Paul Kirkup.  And so elevated was I that I woke Mrs TPAS from her post-prandial sofa-slumber to share with her this brilliance.  Once she had calmed down from my intrusion and stopped hitting me she too became as enthused as me over the picture. I mean, just look at those hands! I could only ever dream of having fingernails so exquisitely manicured as that.  Then that is because I am the British freestyle nail-biting champion three years running and Paul obviously isn’t – but does make wonderful dioramas.
Paul tells us he built the pole as part of a diorama for a railway-themed competition – so the model must contain at least two railway elements and fit within a cakebox sized 8″x8″x6″. The full model you can see in the second picture and is called “No more coal”.
I fell in love with the concept of dioramas a couple of years ago when I attended an art exhibition in south Shropshire – Chapel Lawn if you must – and there were a couple there that I just couldn’t draw myself away from.  The attention to detail is simply stunning and requires a bloody-good staring at to take it all in.  And so it is with Paul’s model as a whole.  But this telegraph pole just blew me away.  There are rust stains from the step irons, and the insulators are broken just as they are – from catapult kids like me.
I don’t know if “No more coal” won the competition, but it should have.  Paul’s metaphorical ears picked up when I mentioned commissioned pieces – so I’m going to somehow engineer my little face lighting up on Christmas morning when I find one of these in my pillow case.  I’ll take her up a cup of tea just now I think.

The Lost Pole

posted in: Art | 0

Nat Simons artist

I would like to draw our sage readers’ attention to this new (to us) and quite lovely telegraph pole painting by Wiltshire based artist Nat Simons.  Nat is the curator and resident artist at Samsi Studios in Salisbury. Astute readers may remember said gallery’s display of a previously lost masterpiece called Insulators No. 1 by Tamsin Pastelle.  We were never told how that painting got lost or even found again.  But for this particular painting we do know.  Apparently, this chalk canvas had been turned against the wall for many years to avoid small hands smudging it. That storm has passed, so it can come out like the Sun, Nat told us. And how nice to see it again. For this reason if not any other, it is called “The Lost Pole”.  There are many “lost poles” in telegraphic folk lore.  One of which being “The Fabled Lost Pole of Bala Leisure Centre”.  More on which in a later post.

Meanwhile, to encourage this talented telegraph pole painter to spend more time painting telegraph pole pictures and less at having to work night shifts, we could all visit Amazon and buy his latest children’s book “Dee Dee and the Frangle“.  More from Nat Simons can also be found at the facebook page “Unfolding Tales“.

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