World’s even shorter shortest poles

Well, there I was smugly satisfied that I personally had already bagged the world’s smallest telegraph pole back in June of this year.  And then along comes telegraph pole connoisseur, Graeme Fisher, from Stourbridge with these absolute gems.  These, he tells me, can be found at the Cable and Wireless Telegraph Museum at Porthcurno

They’re so sweet they make you (me anyway) say “aw bless!”.  Look, they’ve even got the proper cable tie-offs on the insulators – you just don’t see that anymore. 

Anyway, thank you Graeme.  You can expect more gems from our telegraphic cognoscentic correspondent in the coming weeks. I know that because I’ve already got the pictures.

Candidate for the world's shortest pole The business end of one of the world's shortest poles Candidate for the world's shortest pole

Tree Pole

Definitely a tree

Whilst we know that 99% of all telegraph poles are made from trees, few are quite so obvious of their arboreal origins as this one.  Thanks to regular contributor Andrew Rowsell for the photo.  Andrew, a sort of latter day GPO official, visits the pages of the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society by way of a busman’s holiday. 

He didn’t say where the picture was taken but this one looks like it’s just had the branches all cut off and the wires attached. 

He was also at pains to inform us that his friend Johnny has one of our pens.  I was wondering where that had gone!

Extreme Daughter Pole

An extreme example of a daughter pole from MassachusettsThe first ever transatlantic radio message between the United States of America and Great Britain originated in Massachusetts in January 1903. That was from Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII to say that he was on the train.

Meanwhile, the first ever telegraphic email message between Massachusetts and our HQ in mid Wales occurred 109 years later, in July 2012, and was from a discerning sparky called Carter Wall containing news and a picture of an interesting telegraph pole.

Hi, I work for an electrical contractor in Boston, Massachusetts, and have always been a pole fan – particularly what we call “daughter” poles, where an old pole is strapped to a new one, rather than moving all the utilities from one to the other. This is a rather extreme version of a daughter pole.

Carter Wall

The words “blinking” and “marvellous” come to mind. Carter also kindly provided an internet link by way of anwering Dan Selby who posted back in April that he was looking for a manual on a KS-19935 L7 Test Set. Well, here you go Dan. Thank you Carter.

All in a day’s work here at the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society.

Pointing the way to London

Telegraph Poles can point the way to LondonSome eccentric telegraph pole related folklore has come to my attention recently… 

   Peter C. Nutt started the ball rolling with this letter:

I’m sure I read somewhere many many years ago that the cross bars on a telegraph pole are always on the side facing London.  Any truth in this?  I think I read this in a book which had something to do with hiking in the country,  saying keep this in mind should you ever get lost. Though I can’t see it being correct myself.

Then, this week Mick Hughes from Pipex wrote :

My father was a lorry driver when I was a lad and would tell me that when finding his way coming onto a main road  the crossbars on a pole were always put on the side facing London. Is this true? He passed away some time ago so I can’t ask him.

Well, I’m a great believer in the old adage that there’s no smoke without fire.  And two people coming up with this notion means that it absolutely must be true.  So to ensure the correct propagation of this interesting myth I shall, here on these esteemed pages, categorically confirm that it is true.  Not only is it true, though, but the crossbars are actually aimed, using a sextant or something like that to face towards GPO Post Office Tower, 60 Cleveland Mews, London W1 T6.

You couldn’t make it up!


Giant Sparrow in Telegraph Wire Terror

A bent telegraph pole in PlymouthYou can only begin to imagine the super-obese proportions of the sparrow that must have landed on the wires to bend a telegraph pole over like this.  The photo was sent in by our Openreach correspondent, Andrew Rowsell (#0466H) who tells us that this particular pole is in Plymouth. And that all his friends and colleagues are mad jealous of his new TPAS certificate. Who wouldn’t be?

Meanwhile, I’ve had an email from our Honorary Technical Adviser, Keith S**** H.T.A.T.P.A.S.

Just a line to touch base (as they apparently say in America). The new photo of the levitating pole is interesting. Have you noticed it has been cut off, sawn off? not snapped off in the wind, which is no doubt seriously keen in Ireland. Maybe another pole has been planted to take the strain. It certainly shows the strength of B.T. cable, (looks like a telephone pole to me), have you ever pondered the difference between a telephone pole and a telegraph pole? Such esoteric thoughts plague me constantly!

The wisdom and that last bit sums up in one-and-a-bit sentences exactly why Keith S**** is our Honorary Technical Adviser and not anyone else.  While you and I are wondering about Poincare’s conjecture, if the Higgs Boson really exists or whether hands that do dishes really can feel soft as your face, Keith ponders the difference between telegraph poles and telephone poles.  We’ve missed you Keith.


A splendid splinted pole

A splinted telegraph pole in Cornwall

Well it’s allright for Andrew Rowsell (#0466H) – he works for BT so he’s out there all the time and gets to see lots of telegraph pole oddities.  Luckily for us though, he’s now an honorary member of our most esteemed, august and elite society.  So he sends them to us and for which we are extremely grateful. 

This amazing splinted utility pole specimen he photographed at a place called Three Waters in Cornwall.  Surely it must have been easier to just put up a new pole though?  All photos gratefully received – please send them to

Thank you.

 Meanwhile, a request from Dan Newby from Internetshire.

I am looking for a manual on a KS-19935 L7 Test Set. Made for Western Electric by Stelma, Inc. in Stamford, Conn. USA.

Any suggestions?

Aren’t we all?  Anyway, do drop us a line if you can help Dan, or if you even know what he’s talking about.

Finally, just to let you know that Jack Nesbit’s new website “British Insulators” is now up and running.  In it he showcases his collection of telegraph pole insulators.  I believe he intends to display them all mounted on crossarms like the example he sent me, below. 

Insulators mounted on a telegraph pole crossarm.


The pole is not for moving

W e can almost imagine the telephone conversation that led to this…

Which came first, the building or the telegraph pole?“Hello, thanks for calling BT.”

“Er, hello, Hulton Lane builders here,”

“If you’re calling from the number you want to talk about press 1 now”

“Oh ok! But we were wondering if you could move your telegraph pole so we could finish building our house?”

“Please enter the full number of the telephone you’d like to talk about.”

“Look, your telegraph pole is right where we want to build our house.”

“You’ve now got four choices”

“And you’ve got to get it shifted, or these lads’ll be on overtime.”

 “If you’d like to place or check on an existing order press 1 now.”

“Look, is there somebody there who I can talk to about this telegraph pole?”

“If your call is about billing or payments, press 2.”

“No I’m not calling about bloody billing!”

“If you’re moving home and want to stop your service, press 3.”

“You’ll be moving home in a minute if you don’t answer my question. 

“If you’re calling to report a fault or need help with any of our services, please press 4 now.”

“Oh sod it!”

“Right lads, it’s not going anywhere so build the bloody thing around it.”


Thanks to Jay Davis of Somerset for sending us the photo.

Shropshire Star Again

Someone at the Shropshire Star is also a connoisseur of telegraph poles I suspect.  For no other paper has quite so many stories about them.  Here they are again, from 14th March edition.

 Shropshire Star has more stories about telegraph poles than any other paper

Giant Pencil Sharpener

A teddy bear finial.  Or is it a giant pencil sharpener

Thanks to Andrew Rowsell for sending this amazing photo in.  Andrew works for Openreach.  Those lovely people who connect up people’s lovely telegraph poles so they can have the lovely internet and that.  And if I may have said anything hasty about BT and Openreach in previous posts you have to understand it was in the heat of the moment and I didn’t mean it.  Oh God! Please don’t disconnect me.  It wasn’t me.  It was my brother.  He made me say all those bad things.

All I know about this wireless telegraph pole is that it is somewhere in the Solent area.  Look, there’s blue sky so it can’t be Wales.  This is either :

1.  An interesting new take on finials.

2.  A really massive novelty pencil sharpener.

3.  A warning to other teddys.



Answers on a postcard please

Unidentified flipping object


Ready for the quick-fire round, fingers on buzzers, here is your starter for ten…

Just what the hell is that thing?

I spotted this object half-way up an electricity pole at Ddôl Cownwy near Lake Vyrnwy in mid Wales.  I must have stood and stared at it for ten minutes or more – straining hard to bring up the slightest notion as to what it could be.  It looks like some bizarre upturned salt-pot/indicator lens hybrid.

It seems to have the side-light lens off an old Austin Maxi and a sort of screwcap. If it is a lamp though, then it must be battery powered as there were no discernible wires.  But then what is it lighting?  Useless as a street lamp as it was in a field some distance from the lane.

Sorry, but I’ve exhausted my wonderment gland trying to figure it out, and my speculation cortex fairly aches.  I’ve since spotted another one near Welshpool too.  So if anyone out there in telegraph pole land can enlighten us, then our gratitude will be yours and we’ll emanate some positive vibes into your direction*. 


* Please state compass bearing for effective vibe transmission.

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