Treasure Trove in ‘Ull

Regulars to these pages will, by now, know that Aaron Bailey (who has dropped the H from Hull*) is a regular rummager along deceased and non-deceased railway lines for telegraphular artefacts.  Indeed, he has a Pole of the Month (May 2018) to his credit.  There follows the photos from his latest jaunt - one in which his particular interest was poles that are attached to the side of railway bridges,

The round pole is on the side of a Hull and Barnsley railway bridge. He confesses to taking this photo from the queue at a drive through McDonalds (for goodness' sake)
The square pole is on the side of a viaduct on the Settle and Carlisle Railway whereupon he also found some insulators incl the LMS fatty you see here.
I really do envy urban dwellers this access to railway heritage.  I live so far from civilization that even the roads have petered out long before they get here. Denizens of these rural depths have been known to cross themselves whenever they see an aeroplane pass overhead and gasp excitedly when someone switches on one of these new electric light things.  Still, we keep being reminded that the 19th century is just around the corner.

* Must be a dialect thing

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

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.

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.

And back to Hull again

stop stoppress

Aaron, from Hull, two post ago, tells us he feels privileged to be on our website.  And that strangely, other than the pole recognition previously discussed he received no interest from his eBay listing.  This in its way is a good thing because now he has made this wonderful hanging basket hanger thingy for the remaining and significant 51% of his household.  In the finest traditions of Blue Peter – here’s what he did: 
(1)  Removed the bottom 2 cross-arms.
(2) Jet washed all the moss off.
(3) Attached a GR “no throwing stones” sign.
(4) Carefully banked the brownie points gained for future use.

A telegraph pole used as basket hangar in back garden in Hull.A telegraph pole used as basket hangar in back garden in Hull.

Enough to make a grown man cry

I‘ve rattled on before about some of the lofty professorial types who frequent these pages – as much as anything to justify to Mrs TPAS that all these lonely hours spent in shed exile are in a worthy cause. And if David Kendrick (#609) had one of those Toblerone-shaped desk boards with all his academic qualifications listed at one character per inch, then he would need a board 7 ft 6 ins wide – and nearly 10 ft long if ’twere to include his name.  So when someone like that writes to you, you sit up.

Dear Martin,
Although many a time and oft’ I see poles that I am inclined to record upon my computing machine, it is rarely I find such a sad sight as this.
Near to Bromyard in the fair county of  Herefordshire, whist walking with a friend yesterday, we came across this sad, sad sight. The stub of a maliciously felled Cobra 1957 pole left languishing, but still firmly and proudly rooted,  in a field. I wonder if fellow members would wish to see this and to keep their eyes peeled for similar wanton destruction.
I remain, fraternally yours,

That is indeed a sad sight David, and whilst I’m glad you brought it to our attention, I’m afraid I can offer you little by way of comfort. To those who don’t appreciate poles as we do (yes, they do exist) this is just a wooden sticky up thing that was probably getting in the way. You have to look at it like you would when you find a recently squashed hedgehog, sad, but it’s probably best to just put it out of your mind, go home and have a nice cup of tea in a Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society Mug (£8.99 inc p&p).

A Cobra 1957 placard on a telegraph poleA cut down pole with an arhaeologist crying over it
A multi-armed telegraph pole seen in Lincoln

Back at the beginning of 2011, you may remember I rescued some telegraph pole bits from a work-gang of telegraph pole executioners along the B5105 in North Wales. Well one of their gang, Ged McCarthy, remembered us, and via the wonders of the modern facebook age he sent us a pic of an amazing pole he saw in Lincoln. Well here it is. And much appreciated it is too. Ged is quite amazing insomuch as he writes in a broad Liverpool accent.

Now, as it’s Christmas and I find myself with some time, I have been perusing the wonderful Flickr photo streams for telegraph pole photos.  I never pinch any, I just appreciate them. And believe me, some people on there really get telegraph poles. See for yourself by clicking here.

Finally, if your name is Robin Hughes and you’re from Kent then you’re probably wondering when the hell I’m going to publish the fantastic photos of some ancient Tunbridge poles you sent. All I can say is sorry. I forget lots of things (these days) but I haven’t forgotten those.  Same goes for anyone who sends me stuff to publish – I do get them all up eventually.

Have a wonderful Telegraph Pole Appreciating Christmas everyone.

R.S.P.C.T.P. (Nottingham branch)

Not for nothing is Nottinghamshire lady, Claire Pendrous, an Honorary member of our esteemed and august society.  For Claire is a telegraph pole rescue lady.  Telegraph poles don't get left in a box on her doorstep very often with a note saying "please look after me".  No, Claire is more pro-active than that.  She trawls the local undergrowth and pole contractors yards for various parts, then puts them together into meaningful objets d'art for her garden.  In her words...

The poles don't stop in the yard for very long though, as a Derbyshire company collects them for mulching into bio-fuel! I hadn't visited this yard for a few months, so lord knows what has gone through the place? Many of the dumped poles have come from rural locations; the last great bastion of the old GPO system. From what I could see, the majority were from the early to mid 1950s, although an example from the late 1940s was seen amongst the pile.
I was after a pole-top twin saddle bracket, and came away with a twin and a single variant, as well as a cottage-roof style steel pole-top cover. The pole top cover and the twin saddle bracket will be affixed to my 3 x cross-arm pole top display. Not enough to excite the average person in the street, I know, but it floats my boat. 🙂

Anyway, here are is a selection of photos that Claire sent us recently.  These include :  One of her finialed highly screw-topped garden creations, a sillhoutted pigeon atop a pole at Aston on Trent, and numerous of her collectings from the undergrowth.

Catastrophe on the A382



Good friend, honourary member of this society (#0466) and professional Telegraphpoleologist, Andrew Rowsell sent us this picture with the recommendation that we should “have a butchers at it”.  The pole, he tells us, was originally hit by a vehicle with the 20pr cable being all that is keeping the remains in the air.  Apart from the police advertising their tardy arrival to this Dartmoor based incident, we also can’t help but wonder what the hell is a Stannary town?  Anyway, this photo puts me in mind of one I saw in the middle of Ireland a couple of years ago.

With apologies to Andrew for the slow inclusion of his picture on the website, and apologies too to everyone else who has written in the last six months or so.  I will get around to them all sooner or later I promise.  And I do have a list of excuses to hand, my main one being that my wife and I are living in a pile of rubble with only 3 exterior walls and half a roof.  “Renovation project” the estate agent called it stiflilng sniggers as he handed us the keys. 


Falling Down Poles

Firstly, please let me apologise for the paucity of posts to this site of late.  If you could see the pile of rubble which presently forms my abode you would understand.  Completely.  The same delay also applies to email replies, letters, photo posts and my income tax payment.

Anyway, by way of catching up a little, herewith a triptych of busted poles sent to us by telegraph pole task force of Graham Davis (#0513) and his sidekick, Dave (#0516) aboard their BT Battle Bus.

A broken electric pole

Busted Pole

The same busted pole

The first one is an electric pole to which they were called out in error, but which the police asked them to support until the electric company arrived. The second is one that had been hit by a car, ably supported by an acro left by a passer by – presumably they had one in their boot. And when I looked for the caption for the third picture I realised it was the same as the second one from a different angle. So there you go.

All this brings me on to this week’s reader request spot.  We’ve had an email from a lawyer from a large international practice. With the following;

Dear Sirs

I represent a young man who was struck on the head recently by a falling BT telegraph pole, sustaining a severe head injury.

Are you able to recommend any experts who could comment on the decay to the pole, what caused it, how long it had been there, and whether BT’s system of inspection was reaonable. Any assistance would be appreciated.

Kind regards


Perry cleverly got straight to the point – aware perhaps that at the first sniff of anything legal I hit the delete key so hard I would normally require a replacement keyboard.  Anyway, I am aware that many readers of this website fit the requested criteria, and if you can help in this matter, please do get in touch so that I can pass your details on.  It might, however, be completely incongruous with your long service medal if you already work for BT though. Or even having a job this time next week.

D class citizen

Woodpecker damage Woodpecker damage to a telegraph pole When a telegraph pole is in a flush of youth, I don’t imagine a woodpecker would give it a second glance.  Tarry, smelly and quite untree-like.  But once they’ve aged a bit and the decades of torrential British summer has washed away the creosote, they start to become fair game.  So what if the branches are a bit thin, and there’s no leaves to speak of? It’s tall, perpendicular, and is made of wood – ergo it must be a tree.

John Brunsden (#0469) sent us these photos recently :

Thought your readers might like to see what one of the telegraph poles biggest enemies (aka Woody Woodpecker) can do to condemn a pole to “D” status…

…you can see the coach bolts that hold the steps on are clearly visible

(sorry about the quality of pics – taken on a basic nokia works phone !)

Knowing what havoc finding hidden metalwork causes to my chainsaw; hitting that iron coach-bolt must surely have tested Woody’s resolve. The pole is near Langport in Somerset, and John tells me that the woodpecker usually comes back and makes holes in the new poles too.

Anyway, please don’t apologise for the quality of pics – they’re always gratefully received here at TPAS Towers.  Please email photographic contributions to


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