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.

People called John and telegraph poles

posted in: Vintage | 0

Two amazing facts for you here tonight.

1.  This post is in response to an email that is just about to celebrate its first birthday in my inbox.
2.  A disproporionate number of people called John are into*1 telegraph poles.

Member #0512 and a long-time friend and correspondent to these pages and an ascendent of telegraph poles in the Oxford region sent us these photos.  He says

A couple of pics of a pole I had to recover from the old Austin Morris works in Cowley Oxford. Now it’s not hard to imagine the voice of Lord Nuffield himself travelling along these now defunct wires! what do you think?

I think you are right, John.  And who knows what tone of Lord Nuffield’s voice these wires may have carried.  Altruistic endeavours, likely – or if my swift internet search*2 is anything to go by – something altogether less suited to these pages.  Moving swiftly on…

To fact #2.  29 members of this prestigious society have the name John.  I’m not really sure how many members we actually have as I was a bit random at dishing out numbers at the start but I’ve always been consecutive and we’re now up to #0743 which was issued yesterday.  So, for argument’s sake, let’s say 700.  That’s 4% of TPAS members are called John.  Yet when I come to look at a graph of the number of people called John in the general public I find I can’t understand it, at all,  and so this whole point I was going to make – and it was really going to be a big point, sort of peters out in the hope that you won’t read this far anyway.  Amazing what you find out on the internet.  Here’s John’s lovely photos.

A three-armed telegraph pole at Cowley plant, OxfordA telegraph pole lying down on the job at Austin Morris works, Cowley, Oxford

*1 into [preposition] dig, like, rather fond of, appreciate
*2 Note I didn’t say google here – down with the non-taxpayers.

The view from on high.

When John Brunsden, #0469H, comes on here he is on something of a busman’s holiday.  For John spends his working day at altitude – approximately 10 metres above the ground to be approximate.  With a proper footed ladder, guy ropes, hard hat, high viz, crampons and butty box it’s a wonder he has the strength to get up there.  Anyway whilst atop the ladder he does get time to ponder the wonders of the universe, the meaning of life and what is on the other side of that pole:

…bit bored waiting for the dropwire to be passed up to me, to attach to the pole, so took this pic of the view through a brand new pole hole into Cornwall from just over the border in West Stowford, Devon.

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Another one bites the dust

posted in: Vintage | 0

Peter Burton has written to us.  Now, by his choice of email address I presume he must have been having difficulties with a child’s pushchair or maybe a golfing trolley.  Anyway Peter really gets what Telegraph Pole Appreciating (fast becoming Telegraph Pole Conservation) is all about:

There was a line of beautiful hedgerow TPs in a lane near Zelah, Cornwall, often admired by me. Unfortunately, most have recently had one of their three cross bars sawn off to fit a new heavy duty cable. But worse still, the pole at the bottom of the lane, with a full compliment of insulators and sequestered by oak and hazel in the corner of an idyllic field has been cut down and a huge, plain, black, sinister looking pole erected in its place. This ugly, brutal new pole has none of the charm and delight of the previous pole, which has stood there since before WW II. The picture shows the old pole – I did not have the heart to photograph the alien usurper. I fear more old poles will soon be vandalised or removed. And they call it progress. Not for me……….I am heartbroken by the murder of an old friend and the vandalism to the others in the hedge.

A 3 armed pole near Zelah in CornwallClose up of the top of a telegraph pole near Zelah, Cornwall

I fear we really are seeing the last of these old poles now. The answer for us serious appreciators of such telegraphic aesthetics is to restore and install your own pole in your own garden. I have, and soon they’ll be organising bus tours to come and see it. Now there’s an idea !


posted in: GPO | 0

Absolute gold struck here…  You can tell it’s gold because I’ve used capital letters in the title – and that’s a first for these sage pages.   Pete Gerrard, a mine of information on telegraph poles and friend of our incumbent Honorary Technical Adviser Keith S*****1 has sent us a copy of the 1933 publication “The Telegraph Pole” by W,H. Brent, B.Sc. (Hons.) A.M.I.E.E.

Now, I’ve seen odd pages from it in the past and posted them onto this here site.  But here, and for your delectation, is all 32 pages of everything, literally everything, you ever wanted to know about telegraph poles.  Pete says “I don’t think there is any confidentiality about it since BS1990 was written around the GPO Pole Specification, in fact it was the specification.  It is a most definitive article and gives an incredible history of this ubiquitous but largely unknown about item of street furniture.  There is much folklore surrounding its evolution and manufacturing process most of which is exactly that – folklore!”*2

It’s 42Mb fat which is a hefty download, but ultimately that’s only about the same as 3 loaves of wholemeal bread, or a box of Bran Flakes and a packet of cake mix.  Click the cover below to start the teleportation process. ENJOY.

The Telegraph Pole by W H Brent ca 1933


*1 Keith S**** signed the official secrets act so he’s a secret, or something.
*2 I reserve the right to continue to spout folklore via this website.

Juvenile Telegraph Poles

To become a member of our most esteemed and august society may be considered an honour.  Membership is so exclusive that it is ONLY available to those who have £3 in their paypal account AND are able to click the button that says JOIN NOW.   And this last week we were delighted to welcome new member #0739 Pete Gerrard aka “Treebore”.  

For Treebore has sent us the wonderful pics you see below.  Pete says that in the 1970s he worked for the GPO producing telegraph poles from forest to delivery. He re-joined the industry in the 90’s working across Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic States, And picture #1, taken in Estonia in 1997, is of a bunch telegraph poles before they knew they were telegraph poles.  

The second pic is a stack of blank telegraph poles near Burjholm Sweden awaiting their fate of being shipped to the UK for subsequent fabrication and creosoting.

And finally, a telegraph pole near Lake Lagoda Russia taken in November 1997. Treebore presumes that this being Russia, the missing stay pole has been cut for firewood.  

Welcome to the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society, Treebore.  What took you so long?

Trees in Estonia, soon to be telegraph poles A stack of naked telegraph poles in Sweden A pole with missing stay pole

As always, click the pictures to enlarge them.

Arty poles revisited

posted in: Art | 0

Many thanks to Sophie Jayne Howell for her recent email.  Well March it was actually, but geologically, that’s microseconds.  Anyway, Sophie said some lovely things about our website – that always keeps the delay in replying down to single years – but also that her darling father who once worked for British Telecom servicing the poles rambles fondly about creosote.  That’s nice.  Anyway, Sophie is clearly an appreciator of art as much as she is of, ahem, telegraph poles.  She sent us these three images which frankly, are all gorgeous.

#1 & #2 are Simpsons inspired artworks by Tim Doyle – part of his “Unreal Estate” series.  To quote Sophie here “…both of these have beautiful wiry sticky uppy-ey poles, covered in interesting looking squggly bits and big transmittery things. The poles loom in the twlight and just look lovely.”  The 3rd picture is Richard Rigg’s ‘I forgot what was said when we were outside, stood empty, now without those words I fell back’ Installed in Leeds Art Gallery in 2011, it is two lovely big telegraph poles. In an art gallery, Telegraph poles, Art – you can’t get better than that. 

Tim Doyle's Simpsons inspired artwork Night falls on the SNPP TimDoyle 2011Richard Rigg 2010

Crimes against Telegraph Poles

The week all started routinely enough.  There I was busy appreciating the daily influx of photographs submitted by enthusiastic subscribers to these sagest of pages… including these finialed beauties.  (Which have the look of South Shropshire about them)  They came from an email address in hotmail which ought to have raised suspicions, if not hackles.  No note was attached.

exhibit1a exhibit1b

Things took a turn for the sinister when we received the following photograph a day later. From the same email address.  And this time there was a note…

A chainsaw poised about to cut a telegraph pole

A fiendish ransom note

We were horror struck. Anybody who knows me would realise that if someone were to give me a penny, I still wouldn’t have two pennies to rub together. So even if I did somehow know the whereabouts of an ageing water pump I could never put my hand on that kind of money. So we had to play the waiting game.

Then I saw that the evil fiend had carelessly signed his name at the bottom and so I started to put two and two together. My mate Pete Greenrod has a broken-down Vauxhall Cavalier in the scrap yard he calls his garden and he has manky, stinking trainers like those in the picture. But then it couldn’t be him – I’m sure his is the 1984 model. And the ransom note specifically says that it’s not him anyway, it’s some other Pete.  A red herring then.

This story didn’t have a happy ending, and appreciators of fine telegraph poles should look away now.  We received this photograph yesterday.  An act of vile desperation, carried out without compunction by a soul-less Vauxhall (and Ryobi chainsaw) owner.  Probably with a wood stove and who doesn’t mind the stink of burning creosote.

A pile of logs made of telegraph poles


A Tall Pole

Since the demise of his 1938 LPTB Trolley Bus poles*1, Nude bee-keeper Geoff Hood has switched his considerable affections to telegraph poles.  He tells us that he found this 1950 GPO extra-high pole with two crossbars feeding into some houses in deepest London N3.  “Just thought it worthy of appreciating” he says.  I agree Geoff.  And since these pictures arrived into the not-inconsiderable mail system here at TPAS towers, I have endeavoured to appreciate them at every opportunity.  I managed an hour before the Archers came on the wireless this evening, then I did another 10 mins after my bath.  And I’ll try and get another few minutes appreciating in before I go to bed.  I’ve asked my wife to have a go too when she gets a minute.  But she said she’s still busy appreciating one of them that John Brunsden sent in February.  Blimey, it’s all go here !

IMG 1926IMG 1928
IMG 1929IMG 1931 IMG 1933

*1 See here.

Raspberry Poles

I had just had a really bad day – First my pencil fell off my desk.  Then my wife accidentally put sugar in my tea and then I went and fed the cat twice because she lied to me that she hadn’t been fed.  But then this photo came in by email and I found I was moved to tears at the joy it brought back to me following such a traumatic and difficult day.

This is from Chris Jacquier over there in the internet.  He (could be she, apologies for the misplaced pronoun if this is the case) is clearly an inventive gardener with access to proper telegraph pole bits – as those look like real arms to me and proper insulator pins.   Chris’s introduction was rather enlightening…

Well, I suppose you chaps are harmless in your pursuit of telegraph poles but I do hope that the attached photograph of my back garden fruit patch does not completely unhinge any of you.

Whilst I could not persuade the Domestic Authorities to allow a couple of poles for transmitting power to our shed village at the far end of the Jacquier estate, she did capitulate and surrender to the suggestion of cut-down arms and pots for use as raspberry cane supports.

Victory, of a kind, but probably at the cost of starting an arms scandal.

Sorry. CJ

Don’t apologise Chris.  But whilst I am completely, overwhelmingly, meithering-my-wife-to-death sort of inspired by this, Mrs TPAS has yet to be convinced of its efficacy around her broad beans.  A project for the forthcoming growing season I think and a chance to get some of my not inconsiderable collection of insulators out into the elements once more.  Watch this space.raspberrysupports

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