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Sunday 18 March

Telegraph Pole Project Gets Underway

Regular visitors to our news pages may recall that a group of managers and engineers from BT visited the Railway in December 2013 to offer support for a project to reinstate a traditional lineside telegraph pole route along our Railway.  Since then, materials no longer required by BT have been arriving at Havenstreet, including wooden poles, cross-arms, insulators and tools.

The project was originally proposed by Stuart Duddy and Steve Smart back in the summer of 2013, over a pint in the Woodman Arms at Wootton.  Steve, who is a pole tester with BT, undertook a survey of the existing poles between Havenstreet and Wootton, identifying locations where poles were missing and checking which poles that were fit for further service, those that were life-expired and those that needed straightening.
Telegraph Poles 2
The first pole is lifted into position near Bridge 12 in the Wootton section.
The weekend of 15/16 November was selected for the first major phase of installation.  With cooperation from both the rail infrastructure and mechanical engineering teams, a works train was arranged which comprised the 20T Well ‘B’ 61056, the ‘Lowmac’ DE263276, BR 20T Ballast Plough Brake Van ‘Shark’ DB993853 and with motive power provided by BR Class 03 D2059.

Prior to the weekend, the saddle tank from Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 198 Royal Engineer had been stored on the Lowmac.  However, this vehicle was identified as being ideal for conveying the telegraph poles to their respective locations along the line and so, with assistance from the mechanical engineers, the tank was temporarily removed from the wagon and the vehicle checked and serviced to ensure its suitability for running on the main line.
Telegraph Poles 3
Steve Smart prepares to remove the wire from a condemned pole near Bridge 15, while the Takeuchi excavator drills a replacement hole.
The Well ‘B’ was used to convey a 5T excavator hired in from JMC in Merstone.  The excavator hire also included two augers and extensions and these certainly made light work of drilling down into the infamous blue slipper Wootton clay.  Most poles were planted to a depth of 1.4m, although some of the taller poles were sunk to a depth closer 2m.   

During the course of the two days, some 18 poles were planted between Bridge 12 and Packsfield crossing.  Several redundant poles that had previously been planted on the Up side of the line between Bridge 12 and the Forest crossing were removed and several life expired poles were also lifted out.  Attention was also given to those poles that had been identified as being suitable for further use but required straightening.
Telegraph Poles 4a
The 1980s New Works team back in action! With Martyn Budd driving the excavator and Ian Corney looking on, a core of infamous ‘Wootton clay’ is removed from a location near Packsfield crossing.
A good gang turned out on both days, despite the particularly unpleasant weather on the Sunday.  

We were keen to ensure that the lineside was left in a tidy state and so the felled poles were taken back to Havenstreet in order that cross-arms and insulators could be recovered.  Even the poles which are no longer fit for use along the telegraph route may be useful, with some being cut to become ideal fence posts.

The project will continue in 2015 with the ‘dressing’ of the poles, involving the attachment of foot-steps, cross-arms with insulators and, where appropriate, a ‘tin hat’ – the finial to prevent the ingress of rainwater.



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