A vintage pole run

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Enough of all the forerunning festive frivolity.  A new year, so new earnestness in our telegraph pole appreciating.  And in light of that, I’ve been saving this next item for weeks now…

Robin Hughes wrote in to tell us that the lane near his house was once a significant highway but is now just called Blackhurst Lane.  Up until 1912 this road was the demarcation line between National Telephone Company’s area of Tunbridge Wells and the GPO’s “Trunk Area”.
There remains a run of telegraph poles still in use today and incredibly six of them have GPO 1910 clearly notched into them.
Oldest in Kent perhaps? he asks.

At the time these poles were erected Blackurst Lane was, for many, the ride of shame as the Tonbridge Union Workhouse stood at the Northern end. When they built the Pembury bypass the lane was dissected and these poles now sit in a quiet no through road. No doubt assisting in their preservation.
What really made me smile was the fact that in that part of the lane the only pole displaying an A1024 warning notice (pole needs replacing) was a comparative youngster “only” dating back to 1960!
Best Regards
Robin,

Apologies Robin, for holding on to these photos for so long. For me it was worth it though, as it sets a benchmark for telegraph pole watching in 2015.

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Significant treasure trove unearthed in Lancashire

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Funny how I could have missed this story on News at Ten…

A group of railway restorers clearing a disused line in Lancashire dug up a rather thin telegraph pole from the undergrowth. To said pole were attached a pair of iron foot rests and also the conical metal finial you see in the picture below. The discovery was made at the disused station of Burn Naze – currently undergoing some restorative work by way of opening the old line to Fleetwood by the Poulton and Wyre Railway Society.  It was their member, John Davies-Allen, who contacted the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society to ask about finials but also to broadcast news of this discovery to the wider world.   I will now stand to face the general direction of Poulton-le-Fylde and applaud the efforts of these fine people in putting right some of Mr Beeching’s (and his successors) wrongs.

That Reuters or ITN didn’t pick up on all this, though, is a mystery to me.  Seems there’s one rule for buried Viking gold treasure and another for rusting LNWR telegraph pole finials. 

Anyway, whilst the Victorians are often credited with the idea of topping their poles with finials – they had more money in those days after all – wooden finials were fitted well into the 1930s and metal ones are reported to have been in use later still.

A rusting telegraph pole finial found at Burn Naze, Lancashire

Black & white photo of  Burn Naze station showing finial atop a telegraph pole

Burn Naze station in its heyday

Finally this week.  We received a lovely email from Lol from Gmail.  Lol tells us:

LOL…. I thought you would like to know that I have zero appreciation for telegraph poles.

Thanks for that information Lol. We will keep your letter on file and should a need arise for someone who doesn’t appreciate telegraph poles we’ll be sure to get back to you.

Along ye olde Barmouth Railwaye

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Old telegraph poles along disused railway

My mate Pete Greenrod sent me this photo so I’m including it nice and large to encourage him to take more (click it to make it larger). Firstly, I’ll tell you that it’s along the disused railway line that runs between Penmaenpool and the south side of the Mawddach estuary opposite Barmouth.  This is now a popular cycling, walking and dog-fouliing route.  There’s such a lot about this photo that pleases me.  The disappearing perspective of the old iron poles and their rusting air of melancholia.  There’s the dusty road from infinity with persons unknown distantly visible inviting curiousity.  Then there’s the magnificent backdrop.  I know I am not alone in my opinion that the Mawddach Estuary is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  To stand mid-point along the wooden railway bridge – still in use – and marvel eastwards with a tide in full flow beneath you is invigoration itself.

The header from Walking Almaty blog

Dennis Keen is a man after our own hearts.  Dennis lives in Almaty which is the largest city, though not the capital, of Kazhakstan.  We have been in communication with Dennis before as he has sent us some telephone pole photos with an, as yet, unanswered conundrum.

As far as I can tell Dennis is living there to study the Kazakh tongue and walks many miles daily between his digs and his university classroom.  He takes a different route each day, and as you will see, has an exceedingly keen eye for detail.  He has produced a blog called Walking Almaty which describes his walks through this amazing city – one that is completely alien to so many of us westerners – and photographs and logs the minutae of their world.  The word “blog” does not do what Dennis has created any justice and I must insist you give it a look.  As well as pages on the shops, doorways, televison aerials, the birdlife, the grafitti, he also has a whole page on their telephone poles, which is where the link to us comes full circle.

Forlorn of Shrewsbury

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for·lorn (fər-lôrn′, fôr-) adjective
a. Appearing sad or lonely because deserted or abandoned.
b. Forsaken or deprived: forlorn of all hope.
c. miserable, wretched, or cheerless; desolate
Wretched or pitiful in appearance or condition: forlorn roadside shacks.

See the true definition just off platform 7a at Shrewsbury station.

forlorn telegraph pole at Shrewsbury station

As defined by thefreedictionary.com

The Kev Currie Appreciation Society

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Firstly, my humble apologies for the wretched amount of time between this post and the previous.  Due to circumstances beyond my control I have had to contend myself with glimpses of roadside poles as I hurried about the country in vague panic during some familial distress.  Alas, I could not find the time to  blather on about them to our eager readership.

This post, though, I could put off no longer.  You see, we at the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society have always enjoyed our regular correspondence with Scottish Borders representative, Lord of the Northern Poles, aka Kev Currie. He is an adroit connoisseur, cataloguer and photographer of vintage telegraph poles and his images are among the finest.  This month the photos he has sent us almost made me weep with a sort of nostalgic joy.  It was either that or the wince-making bank statement I came home to.  You decide… In Kev’s own words :

Lord of the Northern Poles checking in with some nice photos from my latest foray down into deepest darkest Norfolk!
We came across these awesome poles with fancy hats on top! and the insulators look like the pole is wearing a crown – all very majestic – Also your members may also like to know that on my return journey we took a diversion over the A68 to get back into Scotland trying to avoid the customs post, and what a treat that was and should be included in your next book – Incredible Pole spotting routes in the UK vol 2
The A68 from the A1 takes a very scenic route over the hills and up into Scotland, but the best part of all is that there is a plethora of weird and wonderful telegraph poles to drool over from metal ones in various colours and stages of deterioration to wooden ones with hats on! and some with cross bars, some with street lights attached! it was like well it was amazing! sadly i had to drive this section so no photos, but I will return to take many many photos!

Seasons greetings to you and yours

Kev – Lord of the Northern Poles

A ceramically insulated beauty photo by Kev Currie Photo by Kev Currie

With its finial and sceptred crown that last pole is one of the finest I have ever set eyes upon. And when I get a moment from my immediate mayhem I shall invest it as such on these very pages.

Actually, you may also like to know, and I hope that I’m not breaking a confidence here, but Kev’s missus is actually called Lady of the Northern Poles.  You couldn’t make it up.

British Columbian Poles

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The aesthetic appeal of telegraph poles is universal it would seem.  This week I received an interestingly attachment- adorned email from Canadian Society member Paul Fisher (#0546).  And you can just tell from his words that Paul “gets” telegraph poles.

…I am glad to know that this society exists – I am not alone with my admiration for old telegraph poles.

   I have been driving back and forth from Vancouver BC to the interior of BC to visit an old log cabin for summer fun. Along the way I drive past many kilometres of railroad track, much of it still with the original telegraph poles running alongside.  Most of the wires from the poles are missing or just dangling along the ground. There are many different coloured glass insulators across the crossbars of the poles (clear glass, blue glass, brown glass, ceramic, etc..).

   I have attached two photos… The first one I think is a great look – there are missing insulators, cut wires and broken crossbars, but the pole still holds strong.

   The second photo has an interesting red box along the lower crossmember. I was told by the person who was taking care of this site that this was the pole that the train engineer would stop at, and connect his telegraph (using the big black cable you can see coming down from the pole). From here he would signal back to the train controller to update them of their position and receive further instructions.

   Both photos were taken at a historic location in BC where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific railway was driven – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Spike_(Canadian_Pacific_Railway)

There were no markings on either of the old poles. I would guess that they were installed at the time that the railway was installed, so late 1800s.

I hope you like them.
Paul

Telegraph Pole in British ColumbiaPole in B.C. alongside Canadian Pacific railway

The Oldest Pole

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spalding1908

And so to continue our sequence on ye olde poles – we seem to keep uncovering ever more ancient ones. Very special thanks to Gene Kingsley who sent us this photo of a pole that is presently 105 years old and still standing at Spalding, Lincolnshire.  Gene reckons this pole is not long for this world because it has a “D” label on it.  But I know of poles, still standing, that have been labelled thus for years so it could be around for a while yet.

orkney1894 www.bbc.co.uk

Surely though, it’s going to be hard to beat the pole which BT Openreach recently donated to the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall.  This pole was still going strong despite having been in active service since 1894. The only reason it was taken down was because the markings used by BT to check the pole have been weathered away.  However, the date of 1894 is still clearly visible.  Making this 119 year old beauty the oldest telegraph pole in the UK. 

Unless you know different of course.

Ye Olde Telegraphe Pole

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For something arguably as humdrum as a telegraph pole and the society celebrating the appreciation thereof, we don’t half receive a lot of correspondence about them.  Much of it pertains to general knowledge, Trivial Pursuit (TM) type questions such as “How many are there?” And “Which one is the oldest?”.  The answer to question 1 can be found here and here. We’ve started to look into question 2.

oldpole2

 

Well clearly 60 years in the ground and open to all weathers doesn’t seem to do them any harm. This fresh looking thing was sent in by Disco Dave (#0526).  This, he tells us, is a shallow climbable pole from one of his recent surveys. It’s a 24ft light pole from 1953. The label between the C and the 1 is an a559 label and it tells us that on this particular pole we are allowed to attach no more than 7 dropwires in any 180 degree arc so as not to overload it.

oldpole3

 

 

From the same correspondent…

Just started on this years batch of pole replacements and found this beauty from 1937 that needs changed out. 76 glorious years are about to come to an end for this poor fella 🙁

 

A very old pole

 

 

And then there’s telegraph pole aficionado and Lord of the Northern Poles, Kev Currie (#0530) who found this beauty, planted in 1936.  I make no apologies for plugging, again, Kev’s flickr photostream.  His is most definitely a connoisseur’s collection of pole pics.  Kev doesn’t say where this pole is and his other locations are quite ambiguous too.  Some photos he has marked as being somewhere around the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. 

Anyway, is 77 years the oldest photographed pole?  Watch this space.

Not long for this world

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Woe is me!

Lord of the Northern Poles, Kev Currie (#0530), was on his way home from Ikea in Edinburgh a few yesterdays ago, driving down to the Scottish Borders whereupon he found a line of 46 poles marked for removal.  This is one of them.  “Marked for removal”?  That sounds like a euphemism to me…

Where’s grandad gone?”

“He’s gone upstairs, son, now shut up and put some more of his stuff in the skip.”

Kev’s online photo archive makes for very interesting browsing for we telegraph pole afficionados. Herewith my formal request to be able to post more up on here.  Particularly the “test” pole.  Can I Kev?  Please?

 

Cast Iron Australians

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We’ve had a letter this week for Norma Warren from Esperance in Western Australia.

A cast iron pole

We have 14 iron poles made by Buller Ltd U.K. which we are using in our local reserve, as they are part of the history of this town.

They are the original poles used to link Adelaide to the west. The line came through Ceduna, Eucla, Esperance and onto Albany in Western Australia. 
Do you have any information on when and where these were made and sent to Australia?
We would love to find out more about them but I am not sure where or how to get started. Please can you help?
regards,
Norma Warren,
Esperance Western Australia
It was an interesting coincidence that the very next letter in my email inbox after this came from genealogical website findmypast.co.uk. They were suggesting I take a look at their all-new database of ancestral criminals and deported miscreants. Look, I’m only telling it how it is!
Anyway, It’s highly likely that one of our readers may be able to help Norma.  If so, drop us a line at the usual address: martin@telegraphpoleappreciationsociety.org
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