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



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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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?


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.

Pylon of the Month - July 2014


This post has beeen a long time coming as the end of the school year left me short of time and so for all you pylon fans out there wondering where June's pylon went, I can only apologise.  I hope that this rather splendid artistic shot will make up for it.  As with so many pylons that appear here, it was submitted by a fan of the website who had this to say:

This pylon is located at the foot of Eston Hills in Middlesbrough, in the shadow of a ridge around 200 metres about sea level.  The Eston Hills were used as a lookout to warn of attacks during the Napoleonic era and remains of the warning beacon can still be found at the escarpment of Eston Nab. Ironstone was discovered in the hills during the 19th century and this helped transform Eston from a tiny village to a thriving mining community and eventually cemented Teesside as the Iron and Steel capital of the world. 

It seems that public access to the Eston Hills was under threat until recently when a public appeal by the Friends of Eston Hills raised £15,000 to buy Eston Nab.  In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Eston Nab like this;

EASTON-NAB, an eminence in N. R. Yorkshire; on Barnaby-Moor, near Guisbrough. It has a height of 784 feet; and is crowned with a beacon, a square tower with turret, which commands one of the grandest prospects in England.

For those of you who like your pylon pictures without the soft focus effect, this month's correspondent very thoughtfully supplied this picture as well (and as always clicking on the picture will give you the full size version).


Even more thoughtfully for those of you on a mission to tick off all the pylons that have featured on Pylon of the Month here is a Google maps picture of the location to help you out.

Pylon location

As the sender of this month's pcture added at the end of his email:

I think the expanse of Pylons across the hills in contrast to the aforementioned historic remnants are a reminder of the constant evolution and progress of the area. They strike imposing figures across the countryside and show the effect of technological change on our landscape.

before segueing into Stephen Spender's famous pylon poem, which has featured here before and still remains one of the most popular pages on Pylon of the Month.  It all reminds me of this Noise2signal post comparing pylons to windmills in the Dutch landscape which I've mentioned before.  Next month it will be time for the annual 'holiday pylon', this year from Greece so keep coming back for your monthly pylon fix.    


Pylon of the Month - May 2014


May's pylon is a little late arriving, but I hope that the wait will have been worthwhile.  In the finest traditions of Pylon of the Month, it was a picture I took myself from the window of a moving car (before all you road safety conscious pylon fans get in touch, don't worry; I was in the passenger seat) as we drove over the Avonmouth bridge on the M5 near Bristol.  In fact on the Wikipedia page about the bridge you can just about see the same pylon.  What caught my eye was the height of the pylon and the fact that it is considerably taller than the previous one in the chain.  Presumably the power lines need to be taken higher to cross the River Avon rather like the ones used for the Tees crossing which are the tallest in the country at 145m (dedicated fans will of course know that Pylon of the Month has mentioned the Tees crossing back in February 2013).  Mark Brennan, the project manager had this to say about the Tees crossing:

“.....We need to build very tall towers to support the wires because of the width of the River Tees at the crossing point and the fact that we need to make sure there is a safe clearance distance for the ships which will pass under the line.”

I imagine that the same is true for the Avon when it comes to the length of the span but perhaps not the shipping.  Anyway, if you look carefully at the image above you will see the wires sloping up steeply to the top of the pylon from the right hand side. 

Just by way of information and because it is one of the most random Wikipedia pages I have found, the longest span in the UK is the Aust Severn Powerline crossing at 1,618m.  If that isn't enough for you, how about a page listing spans from all over the world and the heights of the pylons that support them.  It seems that the tallest pylons in the world at a whopping 370m are in China linking Zhousan Island to the Chinese mainland.

Finally this month, it looks as if my request back in Febraury 2013 for a stockbridge damper might have borne fruit.  I've got my fingers crossed and I also now know even more about aeolian vibration and pylon lines as a result of my contact.  I'll be writing more about this subject soon so tune in again next month to see what happens next.  In the meantime, please do watch this fantastic 30 minute documentary, 'Silvering Up'.  It follows a team of four pylon painters and the speed at which they work and their complete lack of fear as they clamber over pylons (without safety harnesses) is a real eye opener.   


Pylon of the Month - April 2014


I get quite a few emails with photographs from pylon fans and this month I have gone for a Welsh pylon which was submitted with the subject of the email as "Pylon: Field, Rudry, Wales."  The main body of the email also suggested a tendency towards taciturnity with just the one word; "Enjoy", which I did, hence its selection as April's Pylon of the Month.  Wikipedia tells me that Rudry is "a small village and community located to the east of Caerphilly in Wales" with the claim to fame that Oliver Cromwell is thought to have taken shelter in the church.  Pylon fans thinking of heading to Wales to chase this one down will be relieved to know that there is a pub in the village, the Maenllwyd Inn, at which they can seek refreshment, perhaps after enjoying a stroll around the 28 mile long circular Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk.  I'm pretty sure that Caerphilly cheese will be available in the area and so if you do the walk, pack some in your lunch box to make your day out even more special.

Also submitted with the picture above was a shot from directly below the pylon which is shown below and which I find to rather pleasing in its symmetry and unusual perspective.  

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There was a little outbreak of such shots recently on Twitter and if you hanker after more pylon action than the rather meagre ration of one a month (at best) here, then you really should be following @pylonofthemonth.  There aren't too many days when pylon pictures aren't tweeted from somewhere in the world, rather confirming their striking visual impact even if it isn't one that people would necessarily choose to be struck by.  Whilst I'm on the subject of visual impact, it was on twitter that I struck up a conversation that led me to the Netherlands based Noise2Signal website with a fascinating and provocative comparison of pylons and windmills:

When you get right down to it, windmills are not intrinsically scenic.......they’re really industrial equipment, power-generating and water-moving engines, as inherently romantic as an oil derrick or an electricity pylon.

Then looking into the future:

Indeed, in a few centuries we may be collecting old mismatched electric pylons from all over the country and setting them up in little parks.  Enthusiasts will clean them and care for them, climbing to the tops in almost-correct period harnesses.  Perhaps they’ll string dead wires among them so that school parties can picture the old days of the electric grid.  Gaggles of tourists will take group shots around their bases before heading off in search of ice cream.

If that doesn't get you thinking then nothing will, particularly if you read the comments and the discussion at the bottom of the Noise2Signal article. Tune in next month for more pylon related discussion.