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

Sawn-off short poles

Following some stern, repetitive and vociferous advice from Mrs TPAS, I have moved my insulator collection out from under her damn feet.  I decided not to put them where the sun don’t shine as was her suggestion.  Instead, I now have them on the walls of my shed and of course a select few upon my garden pole out of reach of aforementioned fish-wife.

Anyway, I’m not alone in this pursuit – insulator collecting that is.  John Paine (#0512) sent us a picture of his telegraph pole (left, below). “Garden ornament thing” he describes it.  And he is worried that his collection is going to soon be covered by his good lady wife’s clematis.  A taller pole may be in order there John and some accidental weedkiller spillage onto the clematis if I may make so bold.

Regular correspondent to these pages John Cranston (#0620) wrote in to tell us that he’s found the hash key – the one that does the # thing on his computer.  It’s Alt + 3 on a Mac apparently. Thanks for that John.  My life, whilst still not quite complete with that fascinating information is now a little closer towards that ideal.

Anyway, he went on to make a sexist assumption that the abbreviated poles you see on the right belong to “some bloke” as he put it.  “They enliven an otherwise suicide-inducing crawl through bleakest, flattest Lincolnshire” he told us.  The sawn-off poles are in the front garden of a house along the A17 about a mile east of the River Welland.  One is a GPO, complete with plastic pigeon, and the other looks like it came from a railway, he reckons.

This photo submission he tells us is his effort to counter balance this society’s Cambrian bias. 

Thank you Johns.

The head of a telegraph pole complete with insulators in a flower gardenAn insulator collectors telegraph pole with sign and plastic pigeonAn insulator collectors telegraph pole in a garden in Lincolnshire

Calling all insulator collectors

Now here’s a subject close to my heart – tricuspid valves.  No, not those… Telegraph poles, that’s it.  I’m always getting those two things mixed up.
Heritage railway telegraph poles them’s what I meant.
Stuart Duddy from Isle of Wight Steam Railway has written to us relating their project to reinstate the telegraph pole route alongside five miles of their standard gauge line between Wootton and Smallbrook Junction.  
You can see their early progress via this link.
Now, erecting “proper” telegraph poles is a noble enough cause as it is.  But they’re running into a bit of a problem – sourcing 780 Cordeau pin insulators – 130 poles x 2 arms (4 wires top & 2 on bottom) = more insulators than they can get their hands on.  Stuart tells us that although insulators are technically unnecessary as they won’t be running open wires, the installation just wouldn’t look right without them. Quite right too.

Mantec Technical Ceramics, who acquired Bullers, are unable to help as their focus is now on high voltage insulators, and so a source for new insulators would otherwise have to be in India or China.  So that’s where we come in.

Many of the people that frequent this site are avid collectors and appreciators of fine porcelain lumps called insulators.  Do you have a decent sized stash in your garage, bedroom or mantlepiece that you could help IW Steam Railway out? You may not have quite so many as they’re looking for, but a few smaller stashes = one big stash = problem sorted.

Here’s what Stuart tells me they’re looking for.

A telegraph pole ceramic insulator with double grooves

As you can see it has a double groove, but whether they have one or two grooves is probably not too important.  It is approximately 98 mm tall x 63 mm diameter at the base.  Inside, of course, is the threaded hole which receives the fixing bolt.
 I am aware that the glazed porcelain insulators came in various colours including rusty brown and red. We also have a few in a very dark grey, matt finish.  Ideally, however, we would like to adopt a uniform colour and go with the glazed white/cream finish.

So, think Blue Peter appeal, and if you think you can help in some way do get in touch with us here at Britain’s premier telegraph pole appreciating society, or email IW Railway direct.

Finally, here is an update on their Project Telegraph Pole.

Insulators etc.

It’s hard to imagine any one of us with our fascination for telegraph poles not being rather enthusiastic about insulators too.  From Bullers to Wades and from potheads to GPO double-grooves they would seem as varied as life itself.  It is this broad spectrum of types from the everyday to the obscure which excites the collector instinct within us.

A collection of insulators off telegraph polesA green telegraph pole insulator
A museum display of telegraph pole insulatorsLots and lots of ceramic and glass insulators

This all brings me to this week’s correspondence.  First is not-so-much collector of insulators, but remover-and-flogger thereof.  Rob A51 – yes that seems to be his name – is presumably a dealer in ye olde telegraph poles and has lots of surplus ceramics which he then flogs on ebay under the usernames inty475 or fergytractor2012.  His latest batch is shown above left.  If anybody would like to contact Rob A51 re any of these insulators then please drop us a line and I’ll put you in touch – he’s in Tarporley, Cheshire by the way.

Next was Lisa Croft from Essex who told us she’d inherited the insulators in the second photo – how lucky is that, all I ever inherited was the lousy Monet that hangs in our bathroom.  Anyway, Lisa knows nowt about insulators but quickly worked out from her correspondence with me that the green one in her picture is definitely not a common one.  Maybe it was my offering to take a taxi for the 200 mile trip just to look at and hold that elusive green insulator which made her nervous.  Either way, she’s gone very quiet.  Or maybe she’s waiting to hear back from Sotheby’s.  Anyway, Lisa would like to be selling these and we would be happy to pass on any interest.

Finally, an amazing collector from British Columbia, Canada contacted me today.  Mark Lauckner tells us he has accumulated some 3,800 different insulators since 1973, with 3,000 on display as a private museum.  Here he has 200 or so display cards showing company histories, patents and inventors etc.  This all adjacent to his glassblowing studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada.  And if you do all that facebook thingy they all seem to be at these days, then you can check out his page “insulator mark” which has many pictures from inside the museum. He also recommends this brilliant insulator site:

Mark, my hat is off to you.


These insulators free to a good home

We received a very kind offer today, from Nyree Phillips.  Her father, who passed away recently collected a lot of interesting things, including the six ceramic insulators you see here.  Sure that her father would be happy for them to go to a good home she offered them to us.  As I explained to Nyree, whilst not specific about which parts of me she would remove with the scissors, my wife heartily recommends that I don’t bring home any more bits of old telegraph poles just yet.  And not being able to think of any parts that wouldn’t hurt if removed with scissors, I thought it better to pass the offer on to our telegraphic readership.

So, if you can collect from Aylesbury, Bucks then all the better (and free-er) otherwise you would just need to provide an address and compensation for the postage which would be the order of a few pounds only for the chance to complete your telegraph pole cross-arms restoration project.  Besides, mine are finished.  Drop us a line if you are interested and willing to collect/pay postage and we will put you in touch with Nyree.

Thank you Nyree for thinking of us.

Insulator Collection

Jack Nesbit's insulator collection


Some time ago, Telegraph Pole Ceramics collector Jack Nesbit asked me about crossarm measurements.  Furnished with said information he went off and constructed a display pole for his new insulator collection.  See picture, and see more at the British Insulators website.