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 One-and-a-half arm pole

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

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.

Telegraph Pole of the Month – Jul 2011

The Fabled Pole perhaps?

Could this be the fabled lost telegraph pole of Bala Leisure Centre?

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.

Telegraph Pole Dating

Drayton Park Road, Lowick, Northants

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****.


mjsalisbury23 reckons 2nd Feb 1929, 1:33pm    

Purveyors of Telegraph Pole Erection since 2001


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.

Cumberland Comms LtdIf 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!


ebay Watch #1

Telegraph Poles for sale on eBay

Ebay LogoWhat’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…

As listed by ladymuck1(18)

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.

Ceramic Swag and a fabled pole

Telegraph pole swagBeing 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

Deal, Telegraph Pole town

Water Street, Deal, KentTimeball Tower, Deal, KentMartin 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 

For Queen and Country…

Johnny Marsden's Army Telegraph Pole photo album

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

*1 Will no doubt mean something to our Honorary Technical Advisor, Keith S****.    

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