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.
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.
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
Aaron, from Hull, two post ago, tells us he feels privileged to be on our website. And that strangely, other than the pole recognition previously discussed he received no interest from his eBay listing. This in its way is a good thing because now he has made this wonderful hanging basket hanger thingy for the remaining and significant 51% of his household. In the finest traditions of Blue Peter – here’s what he did:
(1) Removed the bottom 2 cross-arms.
(2) Jet washed all the moss off.
(3) Attached a GR “no throwing stones” sign.
(4) Carefully banked the brownie points gained for future use.
We have recently received two submissions to our various and eternal “most-somethingy telegraph pole” competitions. First up is Paul Kirkup’s (#0654) stab at our popular shortest telegraph pole section. Now, I have a fair album of poles used as sheep fencing posts, and I’ve seen a good number of gardenly ornaments comprising short telegraph poles. But this one actually seems to be a genuine short pole photographed out in the wild. It’s got the little hat on it, and the black connection box thingy whose name escapes me for always – and it’s also not actually part of the fence it’s in front of. So thanks Paul, a definite contender. Paul, by the way, having the words “london” and “midland” in his email address we presume is something of a railway fan.
Next up is Geoff Bovingdon’s entry for our newly created “Most Southerly” telegraph pole competition. So new is this competition that being the only entrant so far, Geoff’s chances of winning any prizes off us are still close to zero. This rather low-resolution photo is an olde power pole in the grounds of a redundant gold mine in Central Otago in New Zealand. Geoff is also a contender for the longest ever wait between sending us a photo and it actually appearing on here.
Thanks for for your entries folks.
Hull, the city, not the underneath part of a boat – is unique in telephone lore insomuch as it has its own independent telephone network. This came about largely due to endless patent and rights squabbling and the attempted breakup of the NTC (National Telephone Company) monopoly. I would only be summarising someone else’s history work were I to publish it here – and I’d also have to work that bit harder too – so I’ll just give you the link <here>
Anyway, Hullovian Aaron Bailey sent us in these photos of this 30ft Medium telegraph pole he has acquired (as you do) and answers his own question in identifying the HTC lettering as Hull City Telephone. He also asks about the insulators and what they’re made of. So off I went on a little surf. HTC took me to Hull City Transport and the many complaints about them – what’s public transport for if it’s not for complaining about. Whereas Hull City took me to a fascinating page about becoming a mascot for the forthcoming Hull vs Stoke City game – sounds fantastic and my application is in the post.
An extended week-long surf later I think I have the answer. I think it is a proprietary resin called “Telenduron” which sounds like something that would stop eggs sticking to your frying pan – little known or remembered it fell out of favour with telegraph pole types as it became degraded and pitted.
Aaron worked on the power lines for 7 years and managed to collect a few pole signs over this time and the last photo shows us his rather nifty display pole. I can’t help but feel that to be truly authentic though he should have left room for a missing cat poster.
Aaron wrote back to tell us that all the more recent poles in Hull now have KC or KCL (Kingston Communications) cut into them instead of HCT. He says he tried to sell the pole on eBay hoping for some interest in the insulators – someone sent him a message asking if the pole was the one removed from a street in Hull. Sure enough, Aaron searched on Google maps and there it was. I think it is this fact – that someone recognised this very pole – that has impressed me more than anything anywhere in the world so far this year.
Surprising isn’t it that I never start any of these posts with the letter “i”. Truth is, the fancy dropped-capital letter thing what I do looks crap with letter i’s. So anyway, what I wanted to say is “It may just be that we never really imagine Iceland – the Björkish north atlantic country – not the British supermarket chain – ever having poles. Well they do and our Icelandic correspondent, Hâfi Martinsdottir*1, has just reported back from there with these magnificent photos. These are from near Vik*2 in Southern Iceland. And whilst more power than telegraphic in nature, they still have that aesthetic enchantment that keeps people like me fixated upon them. Njóta
*1Our correspondents are so poorly paid that Miss Martinsdottir spent 14 days sleeping in the back of a Skoda Fabia in the middle of winter in order to acquire these pics for our voracious readership. Dedication indeed.
*2 The Sinex Nasal Spray and the stuff you rub on your chest has a “c” in it : Vick.
Now, I have one amazing claim to fame: On 17th May 1985 somewhere on the M6 near Walsall I overtook a dark blue estate car. At the wheel of that car was none other than Duncan Goodhew. Yes this famously dyslexic motivational-speaker who has twice appeared on the Sooty Show glanced across at me knowingly – I could just see in his eyes he was trying to say “For Christ’s sake, come on then, overtake if you’re going to.” Duncan, by this time, tiring of his squeaky puppet celebrity, discovered that his low-friction scalp gave him an advantage in the swimming pool. He never looked back and won all medals and stuff and then did other stuff, probably. The final Sooty Show aired in 1992.
Anyway, now it’s time for your very own CLAIM TO FAME. It’s WIN A TPAS MUG COMPETITION TIME – Yes, enthrall your grandchildren as they beg you again and again to tell them the story of the day you won a Telegraph Pole mug off the chap who overtook Duncan Goodhew on the M6.
It’s one of those caption sort of competions. Think up a caption or indeed anything at all to say about the picture you see below. Not the mug picture, the other one. Look up the rules on someone else’s caption competition and send us your caption/observations. Look, we tried to come up with a caption ourselves and realised how hard it is – so we’ll accept pretty much anything so long as it’s related to the picture below. We’ll choose a winner from one of my wife’s*1 ones by next Saturday (ish). The picture was sent in to us by Dave Bennett (#0666) and somebody else sent it to him – the photo was taken at 16 megapixels apparently, but somehow shrank in the wash so I had to photoshop it back up again. Anyway, here it flippin’ is. See below picture for where to send your ideas.
*1 Only kidding – she’s the judge actually.
Send your thoughts/caption/anything about this picture to us at:
FACEBOOK: In the comments section on the related post on our facebook page
Look what you win: (not that exact mug – you won’t want that one – it forms part of our in-house tea-stain ring-growing competition.)
We reserve the right to change the rules to suit ourselves – cos there’s always someone who tries it on. No more than 2 captions per fake email address please.
Alex Latham’s eye was taken by this olde pole in the small town of Shildon*1 Co. Durham:
I thought it quite remarkable for it to have survived for so long in an urban area.
Judging by the large amount of wires streaming away from it in all directions, it seems to be keeping busy in its old age, unlike most of its peers that will now have been retired or replaced. I say long may it survive and continue to do its duty!
Can’t tell the vintage of distribution pole #44 from this angle, but it certainly looks long in tooth and there is something pleasing about the wires in the second sky picture. (Click the pictures to enlarge. Oh, you know this by now!) Thanks Alex for keeping your eyes so peeled 🙂
*1 Never flippin’ heard of it.
MartYn Fielder (#0486H) claims never to have seen the Telegraph Pole related blockbuster “The Pole Liner”. We find this a little difficult to believe, but just to ensure this status quo becomes mutatis mutandis*1 here is a link to see this cinematic masterpiece for free, in your own home completely surrounded by your own odours. <Watch The Pole Liner>. Anyway MartYn also apologises for his non-correspondence for the last 3 years, but he hopes his submission of the 6 photos you see below will go some way to correcting things. We’ll give it a go…
He also pointed us in the direction of the “Dull Men’s Club” for reasons we cannot yet fathom. We are familiar with said organisation, but it seems, they not with us. Also, MartYn filled us in on his recent potted history. He left Senegal, moved to Paris, got Married and went on honeymoon to the Isle*2 of Skye. This is not a permutation of events achieved by anyone ever, either before or since. It was during the honeymoon on Skye that he spotted these “Jolly looking poles with extra pokey bits” with the Cuillin Hills in the background during Skye’s annual sunny day of 2015. He couldn’t choose between the pics*3 so he sent them all. Anyway, he asks what are the pokey bits? Well, MartYn your nomenclature is bang on the nail. The correct telegraphpoleological term for these raised insulators on stalks is indeed “Pokey Bits”. So that’s that cleared up then.
*1 The opposite of Status Quo. Showaddywaddy perform a similar function.
*2 As a nerd, I take issue with describing Skye as an island seeing as it now has a bridge.
*3 Neither could I
Regular and high-powered*1 contributor to the depth of telegraphic wisdom that makes up these society pages – is our old friend Carter Wall (#0487H). Carter tells us she has decamped to Florida for her Yuletide felicitations – and if I had not got a grip of myself and not finally got around to posting this now it would have seemed hopelessly anachronistic. As it is, 1st Jan is still officially Crimbo. Anyway…
We have decamped to sunny Florida for the holidays, and got here in time to catch the town’s very home-made Christmas parade, which features everything from the high school marching band to the local dentist dressed as Santa, driving his Corvette. My hands down favorite in the parade, and I am sure that of any other TPASers*2 in the crowd, was the local electric utility’s float, which featured two telegraph poles, complete with hardware. First time I’ve seen a pole with fairy lights! Merry Christmas to you all!
Cater signed off with “Sent from my mobile – please pardon any typos”. Well of course I will – I’m not the sort to hold grudges. Typos, you are forgiven.
*1 Did you see what I did there? Oh goodness me, I’m just so sharp!
*2 Yes, this definitely would be a favourite.