The Fabled Pole perhaps?
The brown sign in the background tells us it’s near Bala Leisure Centre, exactly as per the legend. It’s got 5 arms, it’s got a shed load of different insulators, including a few badly shot up. And I nearly got killed by a truck as I was trying to photograph it. It’s the only one of its kind along this stretch of the A494.
And I don’t mean in a lonely-hearts sort of way…
Janice Edwards has written to us :
I know absolutely nothing about telegraph poles but I have just bought a postcard of a familiar place and one of the main features in it is the telegraph poles. I am trying to date the photo and wandered if there were any distinguishing aspects of the telegraph poles that might help.
The photo is of Drayton Park Road, Lowick which is in Northamptonshire. The railway crossing is narrow gauge, supplying iron ore to a nearby works, I am told.
If any of our esteemed readers can help Janice, please drop me a line. Click the image to see it in full glory.
Answers in so far :
Me, I reckon about 1930.
Tom from Donegal suggests “After the War of the Roses, but before the advent of Mobile phones”
Simon H off the internet thinks around the 1920s
Still waiting to hear from Honorary Technical Advisor Keith S****.
** STOP PRESS **
mjsalisbury23 reckons 2nd Feb 1929, 1:33pm
Cumberland Comms Ltd have written to me with the most concise message yet received (that does not have swearing in it).
We put poles in the ground
There wasn’t a full stop at the end either. So maybe they intended to tell me much more about themselves and were cut short. Perhaps by the telephone ringing with an order for a telegraph pole or maybe someone disturbed their train of thought with a mug of tea. Or could it be that they just don’t see the point or significance of full-stops.
If the latter, then they need to consider the distress they put pedants like me through. For starters, I never paused for breath until I got to the end of their email, including all the footers and everything. And then I had to go on and on to my poor wife about the standards of punctuation and what do they teach them in schools these days.
Anyway, upon research, it transpires that Cumberland Comms Ltd do indeed put poles in the ground. And they’ll do so for you too – at the right price of course – just like they have been doing since they started in 2001.
With the word “Cumberland” in their name though, I expect they prefer to erect them up there – in a county which hasn’t existed as an administrative entity since 1974. Ooh, it’s a complicated world!
What’s not to love about eBay and the things people flog on there? This item I discovered during a covert surfing session whilst I was supposed to be working. I’m still supposed to be at it and if anybody comes I may have to flick back to a spreadsheet or something official looking. Please bear with me here dear reader…
This Item is the TOP 3 metres of an original old telegraph pole which I rescued from a Lincolnshire farmers field a few years back. The field is now part of his farm, but it used to be a local railway siding that served the community, and the nearby bomber air field in the 2nd world war.
The exact age of the item is unknown to me as I am not an expert in such things, but I am sure you all are , so please e-mail me with your questions about all the various markings including where and what to look for,
I have mounted the pole inside a steel tube, welded to a car wheel (see listing) and due to it’s current size ( the bottom part of the pole was rotten) it can be displayed inside or outside.
Being the important person that I am (in the world of telegraph poles), I occasionally get visits from passing royalty. Such was the case last Tuesday when the contractors (and their lorry) from Carillion dropped in for a cup of finest Welsh tea and a slice of my wife’s exquisite coffee and walnut cake. Agent X* and Agent Y* were on a skiving mission before meandering their way back to their depot somewhere over the border in the badlands of England.
Anyway, as well as the scrumptious bag of ceramic booty (see right) that they handed over as payment for said tea and cake, they also told me of the fabled lost pole of Bala Leisure Centre. A pole so laden with cross-spars and so bristling with an enormous double-sided bounty of ceramic insulators it must surely rank as the Jason’s Golden Fleece of the telegraph pole enthusiasts world.
It is said that those (enthusiasts) who gaze upon its glory are smitten for all time and spend the remainder of their days wearing fur-edged outdoor coats whilst wandering the lanes trying to re-capture the moment of that first glance. I pressed my telegraphic friends for more information but they were more insterested in Everton football club and an ashtray for their fags. These men had seen this pole and yet were somehow emotionally unperturbed.
As soon as I had waved them off and watched their telegraph pole truck disappear over the horizon I dashed into the house for my ordnance survey map of Bala and also for my trusted copy of the Gazetteers field guide to the telegraph poles of Great Britain and Ireland. Oh where is Anneka Rice when you need her? Watch this space….
*Not their real names
Martin Tapsell sent us this photograph of a favoured telephone pole in a quiet corner of Water Street in Deal, Kent. Whilst not bristling with ceramics, like many favourite poles, these Maypole-esque highly strung affairs are always a handsome find in suburbia. And they are usually popular among the dove and pigeon fraternity too (for some reason).
Deal, of course, is famous for its Timeball tower and is hence synonymous with telegraph poles and the transmission of the Greenwich Time Signal – mostly to passing ships (and Radio 4). The naval yard at Deal was once at the end of a long chain of telegraph stations stretching all the way from the Admiralty in London. To celebrate this history, Deal has a street called Telegraph Road. Perhaps we should think about moving there.
Like Martin tells us in his email, everywhere now, Telecom engineers seem to be busy burying wires, cables and fibre-optics. So take the chance now to get out there and photograph these poles while they’re still part of our urban street furniture.
Timeball photo courtesy of Dave Patten
Join the army.
Travel the world.
Meet interesting, exotic people…
and kill them.
Or… if you’re a Royal Signals Engineer, erect telegraph poles all across their land.
Ex R. Sigs squaddie, and even ex-er GPO Engineering apprentice, Johnny Marsden has sent me some photos from his life up an army telegraph pole. Johnny, who lives considerably less than a million miles from me and has a V8 landrover he’d like help with, tells me he particularly loved the pole work whilst in the services. He also says that he got to play with the full spectrum of PLOH & UG, from open copper to Fibre Optics*1.
Clockwise from top left:
1. All in a day’s work for a TeleMech in Borneo;
2. A messy pole in Romania, but as a world travelled ex-R.Sigs squaddie Johnny says he has seen and worked on much worse.
3. Cyprus WSBA, jointing in 88mH Loading Coils to an SSAC as part of a ~14 mile mixed cable route that was Loaded & Balanced between Episkopi & Akrotiri.
Anyway, Johnny is well on the way to attaining honorary life membership of our most august society. Honorary memberships can be accelerated by means of bribes in the form of interesting telegraph pole photograph submissions (that we can use). Please send bribes in a plain brown email to email@example.com
*1 Will no doubt mean something to our Honorary Technical Advisor, Keith S****.
Coming across a sick, broken or otherwise ailing telegraph pole always brings out the Samaritan in me. This latest pole (see previous post) was no different. Into my workshop for a bit of TLC wherein the application of a modicum of sawing, wire-brushing, hammering and swearing noises means they’re all better now.
I have to say though, I haven’t got many of these brown ceramics and they’re a bit of a bugger* to remove from their pegs. Despite my inventiveness with some sticky roofing felt which I used to supplement my grip together with a plumber’s wrench tool. These had to be cleaned up in situ.
Anyway, when you can take your eyes off my amazing lawn in the bottom photograph (no chemicals added) you can see the finished arms wood replete with shiny telegraphic furniture. I have a cunning plan for making a desk ornament out of this one. Watch this space.
* for want of a better word
There is a pole in there somewhere – and it’s arguably the busiest telegraph pole on earth. This photo came to me from a friend via their friend in turn via their friend. So I have no idea who to credit for the photo and indeed whether I’m allowed to use it or not. Ho Hum! Anyway, it’s in India somewhere. And apparently heavily dressed poles like this are not uncommon over there.
By the way, for those of you wondering what happened to May’s P.O.T.M. I have this to say: oops!
Place: The B5105, about 3 miles from Ruthin
Time: 09:47am, 19th May 2011
Just on our way back up from town after a shopping trip to stock up on Wham bars, Island Organic biscuits and Welsh tea when we came across these extemporaneous traffic lights.
(A bit) like someone out of an Andy McNab novel, I fair leapt out of our still moving car as the lights turned back to red. I knew what these guys were doing, and I knew what I had to do. They were about to take away the remains of the crashed pole I blogged about 4 posts ago. Time for a rescue mission…
Okay, Andy McNab might have had me machine-gunning Taliban henchmen as I abseiled out of a helicopter before making good an escape with my booty. My reality was almost the same except that I sauntered up and asked the workmen if I could have the bits that were lying splintered on the floor, and they said yes.
But I did have their incredulity to contend with. That someone would want to collect bits of knackered ancient telegraph pole and then go away and do something useful with it meant I must surely need certifying. That’s correct gentlemen, totally barking. And they certainly didn’t believe me when I said I was from The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society. They do now.
Anyway, cheers Ged and co.
Here’s a photo of what I recovered. And I’ve still got my eyes on the rest of those poles. More about this particular restoration shortly. Meanwhile, I have some Wham bars to wreck my filings on.