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…

Most Leaniest Pole & Thinnest Pole competition(s)

John Brunsden (#0469H) has an advantage over we mere mortal telegraph pole appreciators insomuch as he is a professional ascender and mender of said grounded perpendicular appendages. And we’re always extremely grateful for his updates from the field.  Accepting that he gets first pick of the most somethingest of all telegraph poles and is finely tuned to looking at them anyway, there is still plenty of scope for the rest of us to pick up the gauntlet he has hereby thrown down to us.  Namely, his entries to most leaning pole, and also thinnest pole (at just 3″ diameter).  Anyway, here’s what he had to say.

Had to go and look at a leaning pole in a garden this afternoon (photo enclosed) and thought this could be the start of “the pole with the most degrees of lean” competition?
Anyway, on the way there, I passed these lovely 3 in a row, 1942, tiny 18ft “extra” light poles, which they say were probably put up by land girls back in the day! Sadly all were “D” poles, so I guess not long for this world…
I duly submit pole 1 of these as my entry to “the thinnest pole” competition !
Happy Christmas

And a happy November first, then Christmas, to you too John 😉

Meanwhile, whilst we’ve never had a thinnest pole before, we have had a couple of leaners – namely <here> and <here>.  The latter of which was my own.  Oh, and does <this one> count?


michael donnithorne's missusSTOP PRESS

Not to be outleaned, Mike Donnithorne (#0597) sent us this picture of her indoors – not only sprouting leaves but as a delightful foreground to some sort* of leaning pole. This, from the mists of time, somewhere near Banbury he thinks. 

* Looks like the sail off a boat to me. Click to enlarge.


Charming rural customs

Mover and shaker in US power poles and long time friend to this society, Carter Wall, has written with this every day tale of country folk. 

Well, I have moved to the country since we last spoke, happily living on a dirt road with no mobile service, no cable television – we are very remote.  But we DO have phone and electric service, which means we have poles, of course.  We also have our Beloved Town Eccentrics, who have Charming Rural Customs.  One of my neighbors, who is well known in the area for his courageous resistance to government oppression, which includes refusing to make use of the town dump or pay for his utilities, has thriftily re-purposed the pole outside his house – see picture – and yes, the phone works.)

But could it just be that you’ve discovered the rural residence of New York’s most effectual, most tip-top, Top Cat?

A telephone attached to a telegraph pole in rural USA.

A Tall Pole

Since the demise of his 1938 LPTB Trolley Bus poles*1, Nude bee-keeper Geoff Hood has switched his considerable affections to telegraph poles.  He tells us that he found this 1950 GPO extra-high pole with two crossbars feeding into some houses in deepest London N3.  “Just thought it worthy of appreciating” he says.  I agree Geoff.  And since these pictures arrived into the not-inconsiderable mail system here at TPAS towers, I have endeavoured to appreciate them at every opportunity.  I managed an hour before the Archers came on the wireless this evening, then I did another 10 mins after my bath.  And I’ll try and get another few minutes appreciating in before I go to bed.  I’ve asked my wife to have a go too when she gets a minute.  But she said she’s still busy appreciating one of them that John Brunsden sent in February.  Blimey, it’s all go here !

IMG 1926IMG 1928
IMG 1929IMG 1931 IMG 1933

*1 See here.

The way to London (revisited)


Our most acutely reminiscient readers may remember our article Pointing the Way Toward London.  Where we espoused and then propagated the notion that the crossarms on a telegraph pole will always align towards London.

Well, Phil from Occamhome over there in Aol wrote in with further proof if it were needed.


Re ” Pointing the Way Toward London”….
Further proof (if required) is given when John Mills & Will Hay are being chased in a car in the film “The Black Sheep of Whitehall” 1942. John Mills notices the cross arms are on the London side so it must be true…..

And so now, indeed, it IS true.

Ghosts of lost poles

Society member #0620, John Cranston, was gifted membership of our elite group for Christmas last year.  This, he found, was a life-changing present.  Now, John is a regular correspondent to these pages and has as recently as 10 months ago sent me these pictures and the accompanying text.  It is late on a Wednesday night and I feel I may be quicker to the pub if I just post John’s words here almost verbatim.  Besides, I couldn’t explain what this is all about any better than he.

A telegraph pole label nailed to a wall The wall where the telegraph pole might have been

Dear Telegrafenmastdirektor (as they might say in Germany but probably don’t *1),

This appears to be an old label from a distribution pole. I’ve only seen one other like this, on a pole dating from 1909. Later poles seemed to have metal numbers hammered into them so, what do you reckon, pre-WW1?

Then what’s it doing on a wall up St Clement’s alley in the middle of Norwich with no pole in sight – especially as it’s on a building dating from 1938?

Well, it’s next to a piece of metal ducting which clearly once carried a telephone cable (there’s a BT inspection chamber near its base).

And, hey, old photos show a distribution pole once stood nearby. This picture shows it in 1933.. to the right of the streetlamp.. poking up above the rooftops. 

St Clements Alley, Norwich in 1933

I like to think that when it was removed – possibly in the late 30s – the engineers simply nicked the label off the pole and bashed it into the wall to mark the replacement distribution point.

It’s amazing how being given a membership to the TPAS for Christmas suddenly makes you so much more observant.

And just to let you know my TPAS mug is breaking in nicely. A few more hundred cups of Lidl Knightsbridge Red (the FINEST builders’ tea on the market) and it’ll have just the patina I want.

Feel free to ignore this email in its entirety. *2


Hash 0620 (I don’t know where to find the hash key). 

Brilliant sleuthing J. C. #0620. Keep up the good work.

*1 They do actually.
*2 We managed for a full 10 months.

Square poles and the spy who came in from the poled.

Our telegraph pole surveillance network runs wide and deep.  Disturbing images just in from our agent in the field, codename “Ectoplasm” show power companies experimenting with laminated, square poles.

We hope you’ll excuse the relative low resolution of these photographs.  Agent Ectoplasm used a camera concealed within his butty* box to sneak this latest intelligence back to Telegraph Pole Appreciating HQ.  Ecto (as he’s known to his pals) needs to find a better place for his camera, because surely they’re going to get suspicious with him waving his butty box around like that to get these pictures.  

We’ll be passing these photos higher up our chain of telegraphular command to see what our boffins make of it.  Should we be worried? A quirky anomaly in pole land or the start of something more sinister?

 Good work Ectoplasm, we’ll carve your name with pride.

A digger planting a square profile telegraph poleClose up of the laminate on a square power poleA square profile telegraph pole squarepole4

*lunch/snappin’/sandwich  depending on where you’re from

A pint of my usual please, Landlord…

A beer pump shaped like a telegraph pole

My son, who seeks out these things, sent me this picture.  It neatly encapsulates two out of my three favourite things in the whole wide world.  Yes, telegraph poles and beer.  About the third item I shall remain discreet, this being a family website and all.

This bespoke pump handle was created by a beer obsessed husband and wife team called Cabin Fever Craft from Michigan.  Despite the bland Budweisers, Coors, Miller Lite bilge that gets passed off as beer in the UK, America does in fact produce some fantastic ales – real artisan stuff – so hoppy you could ride a bike on it.  It’s only right that they should have pump handles to boot.

Guatamalan poles and Dollies

Our use of the word “month” to describe our “Pole of the Month” takes this chronological division of time to its loosest possible definition.  You certainly couldn’t set your calendar by it.  Perhaps I should re-title it “Pole of the length of time since I last remembered to put one up”.  Not quite so prosaic.

guatemalan poleAnyway, herewith a photo that was submitted to me as a possible contender for P.O.T.M.  And while this is clearly an interesting piece of street furniture – insomuch as it’s a right old mess and it’s in Santiago Atltlan which is in Guatemala – it just doesn’t quite float my boat enough to warrant POTM status somehow.    Perhaps it’s that the photo is just of the central gubbins? And that the top is missing, and the bottom; as too is any interesting background.  You see, for the true poetry of a pole to come out we need to see it harmonising in its natural environment.  So, Simon Shouler – who I think sells houses for a living – thank you very much for taking the trouble to send us your submission, but I’m afraid it won’t go down in history as a T.P.A.S. P.O.T.M.


A ceramic dollyOn another note, Brian MacDermott wrote to us…

I seem to recall as a young lad (late 1950s, UK) that we called insulators ‘dolls’ or ‘dollies’. Is my memory correct??

Many thanks


 Well, I have never actually heard them called dollies, but I like the idea so much that I’m going to perpetuate this idea.  So Brian, the answer to your question is “Yes”.  insulators are (from now on at least) called dollies.

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