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“.

Addiction

Addiction
 /əˈdɪkʃ(ə)n/
noun

Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. We’re all familiar with the image of the park-bench wino supping from the brown bag containing turpentine, or the nicotine addicts huddled in windblown corner of a public space or even the terrible affliction that is addiction to peanut M&Ms – Incredibly, my wife once witnessed a yellow M&M roll all the way down the aisle of the 101 service to Oswestry (via St. Martins & Chirk) through all the spilt pop, spittle and shoe poo debris only to be picked up and eaten without a thought by an addict at the back. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if I got dysentry.

And so it is with Hops. Anyone who knows me will know of my affinity for hoppy-as-hell IPAs. Sometimes with ale so bitter as to turn my face inside-out. My ability to combine, chemically, with pale ale is such that it ought to be taught at schools. And it doesn’t have to be in beer either. Picture #2 below is a hop plant I grew up my very own telegraph pole. Crush those drying flowers in your hand and sniff – your life will never be your own again. This is called the “Hop Scratch” apparently, and I have it bad. Once we had cut it down for the garlands supposedly for decoration, my wife (again) caught me rolling in it on our dining room floor like a cat in the catnip.

Anyway, I was reminded of all this by an email received this week from Alan Pink who sent us picture #1 of a hop-infested pole in Kent, on the corner by Thanington church on the outskirts of Canterbury). He wonders if we might be interested… As if?

Pole tubes

Alan Barton from Yahoo wrote to us.  “Good afternoon” he says – well, maybe it was when he wrote it but there was nothing good about the afternoon when I received it.  Anyway, “Could you please tell me what the small steel tube fixed into the ground at the base of the telegraph pole, and often with a black plastic covering the end above ground, is use for?”

This all puts me in mind of an extended and entertaining emailic conversation I had with Bedfordshire-based engineer in permanent magnets, Martin Cummins, some years ago.  He, by his own words is a nosy sort and wanted to know what are these similar, but more  rectangular devices that are attached to the base of telegraph poles.  Between us we guessed so far that they may be a means of delivering creosote preservative to the pole base.  Or a means of checking just how deep the pole is planted.  Or indeed a mini reverse periscope to have a look at the bottom of the pole, just because you can. The possibility that it may be some sort of anti-rotation device – which fits with our previously discussed notions of telegraph pole alignment – was also discussed.  Then Mr Cummins had a letter back from BT at the time saying that they actually had no idea what they are for.  Not a flipping clue.

If this is the case, I can only imagine pole-erection crews working through their checklist thus:

1 Park lorry.
2 Have a brew.
3 Check out the form in the Racing News.
4 Put the bloody pole up.
5 Fit the little black tubey thing.
6 Not forgetting the cap.
7 Don’t ask.

Well now we are asking ???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rooftop poles

posted in: History | 0

Jeremy Boot has a keen eye and an interest in vintage townscapes. He wrote to us of the largely forgotten practice of putting telegraph poles at rooftop levels in large cities. At some point this ceased, he told us, presumably as more and more cables were laid underground. Here's a couple of examples he pointed us to. Credits to Nottingham Archaelogy twitter feed for the first and to flashbak.com for the Picadilly Circus photo. You have to squint to see the pole in either pic.

Pole of the Month – October 2017

We haven't done one of these for a while.

This really is a celebration of the mundane.  This charming, simple and unassuming 1958 GPO 24ft Light pole has never carried so much as a single volt of electricity.  For its nigh on 60 years its role has been as stay to the larger, more important pole, across the lane.  Pole senior carries phone and fibre-optic all the way down said lane and right past my house where only the telephone wire stops off but not the fibre.  I am only slightly bitter, twisted and sick to the stomach about this though.

The pole was last checked in August 2012 and is free from D plate but it does have quite a lean and can't be much support to the big one.  Anyway.  It's not big, it's not dramatic, but I appreciate it in all its nondescript glory and so do the sheep judging by its own shaggy stay wire.  So herewith, Pole of the Month October 2017 at Rheidol reservoir near Aberystwyth, Wales.

Edwardian poles in Berkshire

posted in: Vintage | 0

Great news from Berkshire this week – the RG5 postcode to be moderately specific. RG5 6LN to be more specific and the naugahyde chair by the writing desk in the corner of the front bedroom at No. 67 Kensall Rise, RG5 6LN would be about as specific as anyone could ever ask for and likely more than our readers need. But I made up the bit of the postcode after RG5 anyway – so Reading-ish. My dad always said to me “Son, when you’re in a hole – keep digging.”John Smith* from RG5 couldn’t tell us about this great news though until after his good wife Jane had woken from her nap. To cut a short story really long it seems they found a run of 1904 poles and sent us the pictures you see below. They can be found at Turville, near the Cobstone windmill. The poles, not John & Jane – see sentence #1.

Now, 1904 seems to be something of a lower limit for dated telegraph poles. It is NOT absolute though – see footnote. The telegraph as a system of communication would have been at its height in 1904 and whilst amplitude modulation for voice and music were demonstrated in 1900, radio was a long way from obviating the need for the telegraph – and its poles. 1904 was the heady Edwardian era and a time when the world was having to come to terms with the idea of Doncaster Rovers failure to be re-elected to the football league. This was also the year that the United States of America paid Mexican president Porfirio Diaz, $14 million for the entire territory that is New Mexico. It was only when they got home and checked that they discovered that they already owned it.

Footnote #1: I have it on good authority that these are NOT the oldest poles out there. More on this in due course. Meanwhile, enjoy John & Jane’s fine Berkshire telegraph poles – they’re in Buckinghamshire it turns out after all. (click to enlarge)

Footnote #2: I had a really funny joke for this post but my wife made me take it out. So just imagine something really funny and laugh along anyway if you want.

Footnote #3:  Names changed to protect the innocent (until proven guilty)

5970d73b385be IMG 0991 a 1904 pole at Turville, Bucks.

Either the start of the walk or one of the poles. And one of the poles – serving suggestion, finger not included.

5970d73b385be IMG 0991 a 1904 pole at Turville, Bucks.

Look carefully – double D plates. Fear the worst for this one. And again, helpful pointer to the 1904 date.

Long time, no hear

posted in: Vintage | 0

Campbell Brodie knows a bit about poles.  Former GPO to Overhead Survey Officer for BT up there in Dunfermline Athletic Nil.  According to my pre-school arithmetic levels I make that 41 years looking at telegraph poles.  We owe much of our telegraphular wisdom at this here website to Campbell for sure.  Anyway, he has written in for the first time in a while – prompting me to make the first post in a while…  He was recently sent to do a survey to recover 3 telephone poles and says “These beauties have been up since 1910. Showing signs of decay now so they have to come down”.  [click to enlarge]Any advance on 1910?

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A Pole for May Day

Our astute readers will have noticed that we have been rather quiet recently. The reason for this can now be made clear – The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society has upped-sticks and moved headquarters. All departments, stock, staff, stuff and our entire appreciating apparatus. Prior to this we were housed in a tranquil backwater in Mid Wales but this proved a little too boisterous for our tender hearts so we went Wester and even Midder into Wales. This valley is so deep that the sun appears only briefly around 17th June, before sinking us back into darkness again come the 25th. But the internet here is a revelation – where previously we had to type stuff in ourselves – I now phone a friend in Aberystwyth and dictate what we want to say and he does the internet thing for us. Marvellous!

May 1st means there’s only about 7 weeks until our “sunrise” celebrations. But to help you celebrate May Day – where the rest of you have trees and flowers and that – here is a lovely May Pole submitted by our tub-thumping, rust gathering morris-dancing Wiltshire correspondent Dave Bennett. Coincidentally, Dave has the membership number #666 – which is that of the Prince of Darkness himself, so it is apt we post this now. The pole was spotted in North St. Wilton, Wiltshire and brought Dave back – a really long way back – to his school’s pagan festivals and fertility dances. (We just had Geography and a school disco). Dave then went on to describe suffocating bondage, slow garrotting and incadescent screaming by Mrs Salter – and this, apparently, was all at the village school. Does the Daily Mail know what goes on in Wiltshire?

Happy May Day to All.

A telegraph pole resembling a May Pole

Poetry, poles, a prize-winning poem

posted in: Art | 0

When Current Archaeology magazine published an article about our sagiest of societies back in 2015 poet Margaret Seymour found true inspiration. Her poem, reproduced here by kind permission, won first prize at the Sheringham poetry competition. So thanks to our ramblings, a myriad insulators, and the intrinsic beauty that is telegraph poles, these 152 words were selected out of all the thousands that are available and were assembled into the beautiful and unique, prize-lifting order that you see below. Congratulations and special thanks to Margaret. I’ve illustrated the whole occasion with a photo of a line of poles in Donegal. And some gorse. And Slieve Snaght in the background.

Distance Writing

The telegraphpoleappreciationsocietydotorg
knows poetry when it sees it – the epic
march of metre, neat crossbar rhyme-schemes
embellished with ceramic references
to fungi, daleks, Chinese lanterns;
long lilting lines punctuated by swallows.

It’s fond of folklore such as crossbars
are always on the side facing London.
It loves the drama of the telegram,
whistle and crackle of the human voice.
urgent pitter-pat of Morse,
the arcane doings of Openreach.

Its totems are the trunks of trees –
wayside gods inscribed with tribal marks
BT or GPO, plus date of last libation
of creosote. She of the high and shaky
brackets orders DO NOT CLIMB.
He of the yellow skull warns DANGER OF DEATH.

Happy the members of TPAS! For them
a road or railway is a procession
of curiosities, a document, a refuge
where ivy flourishes and kestrels perch,
a photographic pilgrimage where finally
lines of posts are enshrined as posts online.
Margaret Seymour

A line of poles in Inishowen, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Pole of the Month – February 2017

Where’s this pole been all my life?; Tom Grimes – whose address at any one time can best be written as “A Canal, Somewhere, UK” – submitted this latest Pole of the Month. Tom chugs his way around the waterways of Britain pausing only to read The Telegraph Pole” by W.H. Brent, B.Sc. (Hons.) A.M.I.E.E.

This iconic bridge/pole hybrid can be found where the A519 crosses the Shropshire Union Canal near Norbury, Staffs. High Bridge No. 39, aka Telegraph Bridge carries probably one of the most photographed poles in the country – at least by canal boatsfolk.

With this bridge and incorporated pole having been declared a listed building by Historic England it ought to be preserved as a museum piece for all time. Here’s what the Listing document has to say about it:

High Bridge (Bridge No. 39) was erected between 1832 and 1833 to carry the road from Newcastle-under-Lyme to Newport. Shortly after its construction, however, the pressure being exerted onto the bridge from the cutting walls required the insertion of a strainer arch. In 1861 the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company installed telegraph cables along the entire length of the canal and the strainer arch was subsequently used for the siting of a telegraph pole. The telegraph wires were replaced with telephone wires in 1870…

First 2 pics courtesy of ye olde Sea Dog Tom Grimes (presume that’s him and that’s his vessel) Close up (c) Peter Evans, off Geograph.org.uk

Bridge 39 over the Shropshire Union Canal has a telegraph pole incorporated between arches.Bridge 39 over the Shropshire Union Canal has a telegraph pole incorporated between arches.
Close up of the integral 5 armed telegraph pole in Bridge 39
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