These much ignored pieces of rural and urban furniture finally have a website of their own.

telegraph pole appreciation society logoThis is not the site to visit for technical information pertaining to telegraph poles. You'll find nothing about 10KVa transformers, digital telephone networking or even so much as a single volt. This is a website celebrating the glorious everyday mundanitude of these simple silent sentinels the world over. We don't care what the wires contain either. They all carry electricity in some way be it the sparky stuff which boils your kettle, or the thinner stuff with your voice in it when you're on the phone.


Rare blue sky spotted in north walesEXCLUSIVE

As has so often happened in the past, a rare event or ghostly apparition has been captured on film whilst the photographer’s attention was on the intended subject.

In this case, I was taking pictures of ye olde telegraphe poles along the B5105.  It was only much later when processing it for inclusion on this very website that I noticed the bizarre patch of blue lower right. 

I felt sure my photograph had inadvertently captured a small piece of blue sky – that fabled phenomena which occurs when the rain stops and the clouds part or thin sufficiently such that an observer may see the sky behind.

My wife wasn’t convinced. And I needed to know so contacted Simon Keeling at  He examined my image in the minutest detail and with some of the most cutting-edge forensic photographic equipment.  He also re-examined the weathercasts for the day in question and re-ran the meteorological models using all the sophisticated computing power at his disposal.

His answer was clear and unambiguous.  “The photograph was taken in August.  In Wales.” he said. “Your camera’s knackered!”.

I have now bought myself a Samsung ES71.

Telegraph Pole of the Month – Sep 2011

Co. Mayo, Eire

Telegraph Pole of the Month - September 2011
Thanks to our Ireland correspondent(s), Tom & Aideen for this month’s (and probably next month’s) pole of the month.  Apparently, they found this on their grand tour of Ireland a few weeks back.  They were looking for an antiquarian bookshop at the time and in the sound between Achill Island and Achillbeg Island, Co. Mayo, found this amphibian distribution pole.  A fine candidate for P.O.T.M. if ever there was.

Please send your submissions for possible pole of the month to :  

Society Annual Outing

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Expedition 2011 – Tiree, The Hebrides, Scotia

Distribution poles on Tiree A week last saturday morning, the entire administration staff of the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society boarded the society Smart CarTM and set course for the north.  Destination, first Oban, then the good ship M.V. Clansman for a 4 hour bucking and swaying across to the isle of Tiree.  Yes, we cleverly timed our jaunt to coincide with the fag-end of hurricane Katia thrashing its way up the west side of Britain.

Oh how we chuckled at the dictionary entry for Tiree which lists it as the sunniest place in the UK as we huddled by the wet sticks in the fireplace with the cottage roof rattling above our heads and the angry sea foam splashing against the windows.
Tiree's tiredest looking telegraph pole
But we did find the odd gap in the tempest to enjoy this delightful island.    Herewith a list of adjectives and descriptions for you to conjure with :  flat, peaceful, windy, sandy beaches, blue, interesting houses, lapwings, kite-surfers, fantastic views, seals, dramatic, peaceful – oh did I already say peaceful? 

Anyway, every holiday is a busman’s and a bit of telegraph pole spotting always on the cards.  The flat vistas, particularly the central part of the island they call “the Reef” allows photos like that on the left; distribution poles disappearing off into perspective infinity (almost).  It was this kind of scene that first attracted me to the aesthetics of poles in my weird boyhood.

The other picture, taken through globs of rain on the lens shows Tiree’s tiredest telegraph pole which clearly isn’t long for this world.  Closer examination revealed its “do not resuscitate” notice.  We spoke in hushed tones in its presence.


Telegraph pole markings A while ago, regular correspondent and telegraph pole connsoisseur, Jake wrote in.  He had read our post about hieroglyphics and wondered what might the green metallic plate embossed with a letter ‘C’ indicate?

I know I’d seen one somewhere and it’s taken me until now to remember where it was.  There were two adjacent poles with these plates, 9A & 10A, where else, but along the B5105.

Anyway, my relationship with telegraph poles has always been one of aesthetic appreciation and a slightly creepy anorak sort of admiration.  I’ve never actually worked with them or amongst them. And the only poles I ever climbed were the 100KVA pylons my dad used to send me up every time he got his kite stuck.  And that happened a lot.  Why he always made me wait until it rained to retrieve them I’ll never understand.

So I rely on my army of enthusiastic contacts.  And they always come up trumps when it comes to telegraph pole facts.  Here’s what the amazing Sean K from Hotmail had to say :

New poles do not need “testing for the first 12 years and thereafter require testing by a “pole tester” every 10 years.

In this case the tester has assessed the pole and found that it is not planted deep enough and so the green “C” means shallow climbable.

For what it’s worth, I nearly got run over by a maroon coloured Land Rover Discovery while I was taking this photograph.

Singing Telegraph Wires

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Caroline is a name which has cropped up a lot this week. I booked my holiday cottage with Caroline on Tiree. Caroline answered the phone when I rang the bank to ask about squeezing a bit more from a moribund overdraft. It was Caroline who sold me this week’s losing lottery ticket at the Spar.  And another Caroline wrote to me about recording sound created by weather events whistling through long lengths of wire.

I’ll leave to students of C.G. Jung the synchronicity of all these Carolines. However I did tell the latter one that telegraph wires have slack built into them and so are unlikely to resonate into any kind of intonation worth recording.  I suggested that she might be better off heading to the high moorlands to capture the sound of taut, rusted, sheep fencing which I know to hum from my extensive hill-walking.  I also pointed her in the direction of the amazing singing forest gate of Black Mixen at OS grid ref SO 201 644 and which sings like a kettle when the wind is right.

But then some further research turned up Jarbas Agnelli.  Like many before him, Jarbas’ inspiration came from the way birds sitting on telegraph wires seemed to resemble so many musical notes on staves.  So, long story short, he converted them to a music score.  The result of which can be seen and heard in the video on the left.    

Not quite the humming telephone wires Caroline #4 was hoping for, but a pleasant diversion nonetheless.  



An olde worlde telegraph pole plaque An olde worlde telegraph pole plaque

T hese pictures were meant to go on the site 2 years ago (almost to the day).  Then we had that problem with the back-boiler.  And the car failed the MOT, and then the cat needed worming, and they just sort of slipped down the back of the sofa – until today that is, when I retrieved them, all covered in cat hairs and with a half-chewed fruit gum stuck to the back.

These antiquities are from the collection of John Penny – member #0307 – yes; that John Penny.  The author of a four-book trilogy comprising the two books: “Telegraph Poles I have known and loved” and “Great Poles I have climbed”. The latter, featuring the tale of the infamous DP3 in Wine Street, Yeovil.  Now sadly a shadow of its former self having had a goodly portion lopped off the top.

John has spent an entire working life swinging around the tops of DPs in his native Dorset. And now spends his days gazing out at the Peugeot estate car on his drive.

A facsimile of the one on the right now adorns our letter box.  

The Peterborough Anomaly

My wife has kept an old Cray supercomputer in the back parlour for years.  We’ve always used it to air clothes on and dry boots.  And it’s a favourite place for the cat to sleep as it hums away performing its 1012 floating point operations per second.  Anyway, The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society membership database has been growing quite steadily and we decided we would use the old Cray to do some statistical analyis of our members.  What we found was quite startling.  Look at this membership distribution graph :

TPAS membership by county

A modest cluster of TPAS members in Wales and  Devon as we might expect.  Similarly a slightly higher frequency of memberhip in the south east which also comprises London so not out of the ordinary.  But the enormous spike of members per million per capita in Cambridgeshire completely flabbered our ghast.  If this were a scientific data-set then this would be more than statistically significant – it might be considered definite proof of something. But what?  Luckily our data resolution is such that we can drill-down into the data to analyse on a town by town basis.  See Fig 2.

TPAS membership by county

The graph showed a fairly even distribution across all the towns and villages according to their respective population. But then look what happens at Peterborough. What is it about this low-lying fenland town that compels so many of its citizens to appreciate telegraph poles enough to join the only society in the whole world dedicated to appreciating them?

Could it be the far-reaching fenland vistas allows Peterburgers uncluttered perpectives as telegraph poles disappear off in to the distance? Who knows? But maybe we should consider holding the next Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society Annual Conference in Peterborough.

Rare One-and-a-half arm pole

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A rare 1.5 pole near RuthinRuthin from the Clwyd Gate


I’ve been seeing this pole for ages.  A rare 11/2 armed pole.  Only, the road it was on was too busy to stop.  So I waited for a day when the missus was driving and without the ubiquitous tail-gater coming over the Clwyd Gate pass near Ruthin, Denbighshire, North Wales.  So grainy quality due to photo taken from moving car.

Worth a visit not least for the view of the Vale of Clwyd from the top.  And I hear the restaurant has improved again.


Apologies to the person from whose blog I nicked the Ruthin photo

Lost masterpiece found

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Insulators #1 by Tamsin Pastelle

Insulators #1

by kind permission the Tamsin Pastelle Estate

W hat an amazing week it’s been here at Telegraph Pole Towers.  Out of the blue I received an email from Simon Carter, the curator of an art gallery, presumably in Salisbury, Wilts.  His email contained a lost telegraphic masterpiece by Tamsin Pastelle and in its original JPEG form too.  He also sent us the following descriptive text:

This still-life in chalks by Tamsin Pastelle, entitled ‘Insulators 1’, formed the central panel of a Triptych and is thought to have graced the South Entrance of the B.T. Chapel of Remembrance in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Believed originally to have spent her formative years in the Southern Heavy Water Region of Britain, she was most active in the Reclamation Period. She discovered her passion for Telegraphics when annotating Satellites through a pin-hole; but for years had to work undetected for fear of her public persona, as resident floral artist (watercolours) at the tiny village of Christmas-in-the-cotswolds, being publicly trashed. Had she not taken refuge ‘neath a Rural Transformer on that day of providence…

Extract taken from art notes compiled for the Tamsin Pastelle Memorial Gallery of Street Furniture.

What a find!.  And it gets spookier.  My late* father always claimed that he had featured in one of Ms Pastelle’s paintings.  From his days up a pole as a GPO engineer.  We never believed him of course – he made a lot of claims.   He was supposed to have been the inspiration for horned cherub #2 in Boticelli’s Mars and Venus.  We never saw this telegraph pole study of which he spoke, so we’ve asked Mr Carter if maybe he could help us locate it.


* my father not dead yet, just rubbish at being on time.

A worthwhile project

A soon-to-meet-its-maker pole in Fairbourne


I came upon this rather tired looking pole in an equally tired street in Fairbourne, Gwynedd.  But according to the notice pinned to it,  this pole is part of the Openreach Pole Inspection Project. 

That all sounds very exciting and got me to speculate about the logistics and organisation of such a project.  I wonder do a delegation of Openreach’s be-suited, be-spectacled executives gather at a conference centre at some place like Bristol?  Appointing project managers, approving budgets, and discussing contingency plans.  Whiteboards, powerpoint and balderdash?

And afterwards, does each delegate get to keep their name badge as well as a goody bag of project pencil, notepad and fact-sheet sticker packs?  Then it’s off home to regale their respective spouses with stories of tea from a pump flask, how Derek couldn’t work the telephone conference gadget, and how the biscuits were probably Marks & Spencers, but had gone soft because they were put out too early.

Red category ‘D’ pole means it’s buggered by the way.

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