The Incredible Shrinking Pole of Swaledale.

Always a delight to hear from our East Dorset Branch chair, Willie Montgomery Stack:


I came across this unusual telegraph pole recently while walking near Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales (and definitely NOT loitering, despite the words on the charge sheet; I intend to plead not guilty).  

I am assured it is the sole remaining pole from the ill-fated Swaledale trunk route, a 40-mile line across the Pennines which locals say was doomed from the start. They warned the GPO  that the terrain was highly unsuitable but their advice was seemingly ignored. Within weeks of the line's completion in 1953, half the poles had sunk into the disused lead mines which honeycomb the dale. One actually disappeared into the ground while an engineer was up it. They're still looking for him. Another, as it plunged into the earth in the village of Muker, dragged to destruction six bikes belonging to members of the Swaledale Cycling Club and a border terrier called Arthur, all of which had been left chained to the pole while their owners were in the Farmers Arms, Arthur's owner being the notorious drinker, womaniser and pugilist Algernon Swinson, then suffragan Bishop of Ripon.  

Remarkably, this pole has taken a full 66 years to lose some 24 feet in height. But these could be the last photos taken of it. Its descent is finally accelerating, according to villagers. They mutter that it may vanish altogether by "Reeth fair twemmunth", whatever that means.

Yours, as ever,

Willie Montgomery Stack
E. Dorset T.P.A.S.