Pylon of the Month - July 2015

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With my summer holiday (in Turkey) looming and the usual 'holiday pylon' to follow in August, I thought that I would choose a UK pylon for July.  I have quite a backlog of submissions from fans of the website, but this rather splendid one from Essex caught me eye as I trawled back through my collection of emails from the last year or so.  This is what the email I received had to say:

I recently took these photos whilst out on a 10 mile hike near Woodham Ferrers which is near Maldon in Essex.  I thought the pylons were majestic and fascinating, hence looking on the web at other photos and coming across your site.

Woodham Ferrers itself has more than a few points of interest of which my favourite is that it was attacked during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381. This revolt, about which I knew almost nothing (the name Wat Tyler rang a bell, but that was about it.....), seems to have been about a form of Poll Tax and started in Essex and then spread to Kent.  

I recognised the name of Maldon because of the sea salt connection.  It has been harvested since 1882 because Flat tide-washed marshes and low rainfall mean high salinity.  So pylon fans heading to Essex can top up on sea salt and this series of email exchanges on whether there is a discernible difference between sea salt and other forms of salt makes for interesting reading before you make any purchases.  For literature fans, Maldon also features in HG Wells's War of the Worlds and in the Marvel Universe, the twin superheroes Psylocke and Captain Britain were born and raised in Maldon.  Science fans will be equally pleased to know that John Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, was nor in Maldon and went on to win the Nobel Prize in physics in 1904 for:

...his investigations of the densities of the most important gases and for his discovery of argon in connection with these studies".

Perhaps more relevant to the picture above, the reason for the blue sky in the background is due to Rayleigh scattering.  I'll end on that note and if you have read this far, then I hope that you are as delighted as I am that a pylon picture can lead to so many interesting (if somewhat random) facts about Essex.  I'm always better informed after writing these posts and hope that any readers are as well.


Pylon of the Month - May 2015

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I've received a lot of pylon pictures over the last few weeks and choosing between them was causing me a bit of trouble.  I therefore decided to experiment with a bit of democracy and let one of my year 10 physics classes choose.  From a shortlist of six pylons, they chose the one above, although it wasn't unanimous and today in the lesson there was a bit of grumbling from a disgruntled student who is convinced that the wrong choice was made.  Anyway, it was the colour of the sky and the birds in flight that captured the popular vote and the fan who sent in the picture had this to say about it:

I've become a fan of your site via a colleague [who is] currently the recipient of the award for March. I have quite a lot of pylons, basically because where I live (Preston) there is only really one decent spot to photograph the sunset which is from near the docks, on the Ribble, and across the water in Penwortham is a substation at Howick Cross. The pylons carry the electricity over the river and either spoil the view or enhance it. Personally I like it as they give a focus to what would otherwise be a fairly mundane view as there are no other real landmarks in the direction of the sun. 
 
The North West of England seems to be a hotbed of pylon fans and this is one of a number from that part of the world.  As regular readers of this blog might know, that is the part of the world where I grew up and although I have only been to Preston a few times I do remember the famous/infamous (delete according to your taste in architectural styles) Brutalist bus station built in the late 1960s and since 2013, a grade 2 listed building.  As far as I am aware there aren't any listed electricity pylons, but the 'Patcham Pylon' near Brighton is grade 2 listed.  This has nothing to do with electricity, but harks back to the original use of the word pylon to describe the monumental entrance to a Greek temple.  I could go on (and have done so before, here in September 2012 and August 2011 where the etymology of the word 'pylon' was discussed).  That's all for now folks.  Come back next month for more or follow @pylonofthemonth for a more regular supply of pylon pictures.

 


Pylon of the Month - April 2015

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This has been a very busy month on the pylon front.  As well as making it onto the BBC website (Meet the Pylon Spotters) along with Flash who runs the Pylon Appreciation Society, I have done several interviews on local BBC radio stations about pylons.  The reason for this is that the six new T pylons (which I talked about back in November 2011) have been at installed at the National Grid training centre in Nottinghamshire and for a couple of days the UK went pylon mad, setting a new daily record of 4265 hits on Pylon of the Month.

I could have let all this publicity go to my head, but after considering featuring the new T pylon for April I have decided to stay true to the many fans who have sent in pylon pictures.  When I get a 'real' picture (rather than one from the internet) of the new T pylons I'l definitely use it, but until then it is business as usual.  So this month's picture was taken in Edinburgh and sent in with the following message:

Our colleague............is very keen on your blog ‘Pylon of the month’ we took these photos out of our office windows earlier today – it would make his day/week/month if they could be included in your blog...... 

The window in question seems to be at the Milton Road Campus of Edinburgh College, which rather fittingly offers Electrical Engineering amongst many other courses.  With any luck, the news feed on their home page might soon be announcing the exciting news about Pylon of the Month featuring a nearby pylon.  It might even get people at the college debating whether they prefer the old lattice pylons as featured above or the new T pylons.  Flash Bristow has no doubts that 'These new electricity pylons will make Britain a duller place' although I'm not so sure.  They won't be replacing existing pylons and even new pylon lines will have the option of using the T pylons or not, so with variety being the spice of life perhaps it will enhance the pylon offering in the UK.  For lots on this and for more regular pylon action go to Twitter and @pylonofthemonth.  


Pylon of the Month - March 2015

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This is another 'better late than never' pylon and in a very busy month, it might never have happened at all but for the intervention of one of my students (you know who you are.....) who asked why there had not yet been a pylon for March.  The eagle eyed amongst you will spot that it was taken on the day of the solar eclipse (Friday 20th March) because in the background is the unmistakable crescent of the sun as the partial eclipse reached or was close to its maximum extent.  (Click on the picture to see an enlarged version).  The picture was taken by a fan of the website who has featured before back in September 2014, but unlike the last one which was taken in Scotland, this one was taken from the towpath of the Bridgewater canal which is:

considered to be the first true canal at England. Built at one level, its route followed the contours of the land to avoid the use of locks.

As well as this nice link to science & technology in the 18th century (the Bridgewater canal opened in 1761) there is a link to 21st century science & technology because the picture was actually taken where the canal runs past Daresbury science park.  This is the home of (amongst other things) the Cockcroft Institute named after Sir John Cockcroft who (with Ernest Walton) first split the atom.  This picture therefore encapsulates four of my interests; pylons (obviously.....!), astronomy, particle physics & the history of science.   What more could I ask for and so thanks again to the student who motivated me to write this month's post.

 


Pylon of the Month - February 2015

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This month's pylon, published on Valentine's Day, is notable not just for the usual pylon but also for the heart shaped hole in the clouds overhead.  The picture came courtesy of Lisa at Nan's Nice cakes and was taken last June.  With the heart shaped hole in the clouds it seemed a pity to use it other than in February and so here we are.  The pylon can be found in Great Ponton in Lincolnshire and for any pylon fans planning a romantic outing later today, the fact that the A1 bisects the village should make it fairly easy to make your way there.  Be careful, however, because according to Wikipedia that part of the A1 is an accident blackspot.........

It is probably a bit late for this year, but for anyone wanting a Slush-Free Valentine card' then one of the cards on offer has a rather splendid pylon design that might be worth storing in a drawer ready for 2016. I'll leave it there for this month, because banging on any more about pylon related news might spoil the romantic atmosphere that this month's pylon has created! 


Pylon of the Month - January 2015

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Happy New Year to pylon fans everywhere!

This month's pylon(s) comes from South Africa and is yet another another addition to the 'pylon pictures taken out of the window of a moving vehicle' category.  I took it in December whilst on a family holiday in South Africa and the pylons can be found near Stellenbosch, just after you join the N2 to head East on the fabulous Garden Route.   

A bit of research tells me that South Africa currently relies heavily on coal for energy production (88% according to a graphic in the Observer's January Tech Monthly, but 77% according to Wikipedia) largely because there is a lot of coal in the norh of the country.  It also revealed that in June 2014 Johannesburg suffered power disruption due to:

......the theft of 88kV electricity pylons between the Nirvana and Nancefield substations.  City Power electricians are currently in the areas and have started the project to replace the stolen pylons and also to repair those that can be replaced....

I had to follow up this story, but my visions of whole pylons being carted away on the back of a truck were dashed when I read that:

cross members of pylons were stolen, causing the bolts to loosen at the base of a pylon, resulting in the collapse of one of them.  The next pylon on the circuit also collapsed as a result of the strain.

I'll sign off there for now, but with plenty of pictures lined up for 2015, make sure that you come back regularly for more pylon action.

 


Pylon of the Month - December 2014

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Another month has passed me by and I'm posting this pylon in the last few days of November so that it is there for the whole of December.  I had good intentions on my return from Japan (see October's pylon) but time slipped through my fingers and so once again it is a case of better late than never. Whilst looking through the many emails I receive with potential pylon pictures to choose from, it was this phrase that was the clincher:

Keep up the good work, it's a great tongue in cheek website blog and keeps us amused on not so summery days.

As the last few weeks have been full of not so summery days, it seemed to me that a reminder of the glory days of June was in order and so do please click on the image above to get the larger version and drink in the sunshine.  The pylons are located south of the A2, south of Canterbury in a Village called Nackington.  It looks like a lovely place to visit and Kent is one of the counties of England which I have rarely visited, so I might try to get there at some point soon. Nackington itself was in the Domesday Book and given the history associated with Canterbury it might not surprise you to know that the A2 follows a route similar to a Celtic ancient trackway and that it was formerly known as the Dover Road.  When following this up, the wonders of the internet then led me to a comedy play by AA Milne (of Winnie the Pooh fame) called 'The Dover Road' which was written in 1921.  If you are reading this post and you are a person of influence in the theatre world and decide to revive this play, please do name check Pylon of the Month and invite me to the first night and the after show party.  If it then leads to a triumphant remake of the film (originally released as 'Where Sinners Meet') then an invitation to the Oscar party is the least I expect.  

Talking of films, I'll end with a link to a quirky short film sent in by a fan of the website shot on super 8 film.

Enjoy......................

Stromland / Electrified Landscape from Thorsten Fleisch on Vimeo.

 

 


Pylon of the Month - October 2014

This is going to be a shorter post than usual, but as I am currently in Japan I felt that October's pylon (and for those who have been in touch; yes I know it is rather late) had to be from the land of the rising sun. This red and white beauty was taken (in finest Pylon of the Month tradition) through the window of a moving car on the expressway from Nagoya whilst I was in the passenger being driven towards Ichinomiya. Nagoya is Japan's fourth largest city but despite this is not particularly well known. I'll leave it there for the moment, not least because this is my first ipad post and I haven't yet figured out how to do links. There will be more on Japanese pylons soon.

18 Oct 2014

Pylon of the Month - September 2014

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This month's post is the 50th pylon to feature on Pylon of the Month since it began back in June 2008 (at least for me; there was a website of the same name that insipred me as detailed in the 'About' section of the blog).  

With the Scottish Indepedence referendum due to take place later this month I was thinking of featuring a pylon from North of the border (another first for Pylon of the Month), but didn't have any pictures available.  Then, most serendipitously, a fan of the website sent me a picture from close to the A9 near Pitlochry (you can see the original here).  It is the first pylon out of the 15MW hydroelectric plant on the artificially created Loch Faskally.  If you want to visit the pylon then you can see it on Google maps here.  According to the the Highlands and Islands Energy website:

Hydro power produces about 12% of Scotland’s electricity, with considerable potential remaining to introduce new hydro schemes and expand or improve the efficiency of existing facilities.  More than half of Scotland’s 145 hydroelectric schemes are in the Highlands and Islands area, with the most modern plants achieving energy conversion rates topping 90%.  Total hydro generation capacity in Scotland is about 1,500 megawatts (MW), a figure that was overtaken by the country’s faster-growing windpower capacity in 2009.    

I don't think that any of this has a direct bearing on the Scottish referendum, although energy is a significant part of the debate as outlined on the BBC website where you can read into the issue in great detail.  However you vote (if you are eligible), you can at least enjoy this month's pylon and as it is from a hydroelectric power station you can even enjoy it with a clean (or perhaps that should be a green......) conscience.


Pylon of the Month - August 2014

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It's that time of year again when I use a pylon picture taken on my summer holidays.  I've been doing it for a few years now and after a Greek pylon two years ago from the Pelion area of the mainland, this year's isn't too far away in geographical terms.  We spent two wonderful weeks on the island of Skopelos, but despite exploring most of the island, there wasn't a proper pylon to be seen and so it wasn't looking good for the 2014 holiday pylon.  I'm not counting the smaller wooden structures that are fairly common on Skopelos (as they are everywhere), although that didn't stop me using a painting of one in January ths year because it is the first time a pylon appeared in a work of art.

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The fact that Skopelos is one of the more unspoilt islands was one of its attractions and so I'm not complaining.  After two weeks, we got the boat from Skopelos to Volos and from there to Thessaloniki by bus and it was on this leg of the return journey that I snapped the pylons.  What I like about is that there are 3 different designs of pylon in one picture and my favourite is the one on the right with two triangular features on top that look rather like ears.  I'm guessing that they belog to the Public Power Corporation who seeem to provide most of the electricity in Greece according to the "List of electric power companies in Greece".  If you want to track the pylons down then they are on the main road from Volos to Thessaloniki just before the turn off to Larissa.  If you are going to Thessaloniki they are on the opposite side of the road (so on the left as you should be driving on the rght).  

On a related point, is there anyone out there who falls in the middle of the Venn diagram below?

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If so then you may well remember 2007, when Blackburn Rovers (club motto 'Arte et Labore' or  'By Skill and Hard Work') played Larissa in the UEFA cup and despite winning 2-1 at Ewood Park went out 3-2 on aggregate. For complete statto heaven on both legs of the fixture, the UEFA web page is about as comprehensive as it is possible to be.  

That's all for now.  See you in September for more pylon related fun and facts.