Thursday, April 11, 2013

Telegraph wires....etc....for Sepia Saturday

This week's theme:
Telegraph poles and wires spoil a photo....
Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. Click here to learn more.

My telephone engineer............

.................some years ago, told me that he was keen on photography, and the thing that most often spoiled  his photos was a pole and wire, aerials etc. It had become his photo-obsession. He explained to me that invariably photographers failed to see wires and poles through their viewfinder, they also failed to see many other things that they may have been able to avoid. Poles and wire however can be hard to avoid.

Since that time I have always been infected by his obsession. It's not that I dislike poles and wires, I just can't forget what he said when I look at a photo, and I too am now being treated for OPDD. (Obsessive Photo-Disorder Disorder)

So how could I resist the chance to talk about my health to you Sepians this week?

Let me take you on a quick dip into my hard disk for some images that I carefully tagged 'telegraph" and 'wire'. Such careful tagging was against the advice of my psychiatrist, but if I am going to have a disorder I may as well suffer it properly.

Did you notice the Martian................?

..............Yes, the man being fêted in this week's Sepia image is actually a Martian who landed in Denmark in the late 1950's and became famous as he toured the farming villages on foot. [citation needed]. You may not have noticed he was a Martian, for his disguise was carefully planned as he approached Earth. But they forgot that Earth people do not have electronic headgear.

Rumbled by a Sepian !!

Sometimes wires can be nasty............

Christ Church, West Bromwich, 
circa 1900. (Post card) I used this
 for a Wikipedia article about
 the architect Francis Goodwin...

....but I removed the wires !!

Sometimes poles can be nice.....
(especially in Poland)

These storks were snapped by me in July 2010 south east of Poznan, Poland. My hosts did not understand why their English guest shouted "stop the car !!"
(Own collection)

On my Mum's shoulder, Ashbourne, 1939.
(Own collection)

Stuffing myself with crisps, circa 1960, oblivious to poles.
I wonder what became of my sister's French exchange friend, Claudie Ingold from Vierzon, far right. Send me an email if you ever come across this photo Claudie!
(Mark VII Jaguar. Registration: GRC 2. Send me an email if the car still exists)
(Own collection)

Beatrix Slater, my great aunt. may be a washing line pole, but at least the photo is very Sepia.
(Own collection)

The Derby bus, London Road, Alvaston, near Derby.
(Own collection)

What a fine and prominent pole at Weston Underwood, near Derby. I tracked this down in 2008 when I was doing some on-the-ground research for Brett Payne which he later blogged at  a series of Photo-Sleuth blogs. The old man on the left we thought, very likely, may have been Brett's G G Grandfather, one time village grandee, brick maker, grocer, sub-postmaster and carrier of goods to and from Derby, John Miller (click to see his portrait) or (Click here to see him in Derby with his carriage). Do you agree it's him ? The old boy clearly was the man about the village, and he would surely have ensured he got in the photo, every bit as excited as the small children were !
(Courtesy AP Knighton collection)

Sometimes poles can be useful........

....but the architect did not
 notice the pole gave him a good clue.

Poles in wartime......

Major Charles Sydney Smith MC, (mt great aunt's husband) and fellow officers, at Machine Gun Corps HQ, Belton House, Grantham. 1918.
He died of influenza a week after war ended in November 1918.

(Own collection)

One of my interests is the 19th century fortifications in Poznan, Poland, in particular those used as part of Stalag XXID to house British POWs. This image is an entrance to one such fort, but not one used for POWs, Fort VII (Colomb). Following the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Fort VII was chosen as the site of the first concentration camp in occupied Poland, called Konzentrationslager Posen. In mid November 1939 the camp was renamed as a Gestapo prison and a transit camp (Geheime Staatspolizei Staatspolizeileitstelle Posen. Übergangslager – Fort VII). In this period prisoners usually remained in the camp for about six months, before being sentenced to death, a long prison term or transfer to a larger concentration camp, such as Dachau and Auschwitz, or in rare cases being released. According to different estimates, between 4,500 and 20,000 people, mostly Poles from Poznań and the surrounding region, died while imprisoned at this camp.
(Courtesy Biblioteki Raczyńskich, Poznań)

The home of my great aunt Alice Mellor nee Slater. It may not look like a war photo, but the house is "Sunnydale" on Beesands beach in Devon. In late 1943 the nearby area of coast was evacuated, along with many other villages in the South Hams area, to make way for 15,000 allied troops who needed the area to practice for the D-Day landings. The US army built a concrete pill-box camouflaged inside the house. After the war Percy and Alice were given the choice of having it removed, or cash. Percy was a practical man, and took the cash, but then he found out that concrete was harder than he thought, and they never managed to remove it before they died.
(Own collection)
Beesands circa 1900.
No poles here, but do you see the wooden hulk/wreck (for that is what it certainly is) at the far end of the beach, in front of Sunnydale House?
In circa 1957, I was aged about 7, I remember staying with Uncle Percy and Aunty Alice, and one day, at Percy's calling, someone came with a lorry to collect a ship's cannon off the beach in front of the house, for the local museum. I remember the day as clearly as I remember last week's blog. Many years later I inherited this old postcard and realised, to my amazement  that that cannon must have been all that remained of this hulk by the 1950s. 

(Judges(?) post card..Own Collection)

Sepians...take care in your postings  !!!!!

These are just a sample of the poles and wires etc that Sepians posted in one week !!!!
(Image extracts courtesy of fellow Sepians !)

The unused poles...the sad story...............

In 1918 my great aunt, Maud Barnes, from Ashbourne, Derbyshire, married Kenneth A.S. Scholefield. He was English born, but before the war, together with his brothers, he had emigrated to British Columbia, Canada, to farm , but returned to the UK as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, eventually serving with the Canadian Railway Troops Depot. After their marriage he returned to Canada again by troop ship in 1919, and his new wife followed shortly thereafter.

1918, Kenneth Ian Arnulph Scholefield and Maud Barnes are 
married in Ashbourne.
(H Hine, Ashbourne.Own collection)

By all accounts, passed down to me, they lived a most primitive life as pioneers, in accommodation that clearly did not impress the family back in Ashbourne, judging by the stories told to me as a child. In November 1921 their only child Ian was born, and a matter of weeks thereafter Kenneth collapsed and died in the field, leaving Maud stranded with a tiny baby. She returned to England, and Ian (a.k.a.Tim) was brought up in Ashbourne, becoming my mother's de facto brother and neighbour.

The photograph below is titled on the rear "Kenneth's first crop of oats, 1921". You can clearly see the huge trees he had to clear to create his land, a daunting task that killed him eventually. But had he thoughtfully planned that one day he would be able to connect his farm cabin to electricity and telephone?? Had he intentionally left this row of young trunks/poles for this purpose??  I wonder.

"Kenneth's first crop of oats, 1921"
British Columbia.
(Own collection)

Baby Ian Arnulph Stuart Scholefield (Tim)
 safely in England, aged 21 months, September 1923.
(Own collection)

So thanks to my telephone engineer for alerting my photo-perception

Bletchley Park was the site of the United Kingdom's main decryption establishment, where ciphers and codes of several Axis countries were decrypted, most importantly the ciphers generated by the German Enigma and Lorenz machines.After the war, Bletchley Park was used as a Regional Training Centre for all departments of the Post Office, including telephone engineers who learnt about pole climbing...

The end


  1. A fascinating set of photos and I had to smile at the humour in your theme.

  2. An interesting 'polish' theme Nigel, although thanks to you affliction I'll now be searching my own photos for the offending items before posting. I'll still post them however, as it's to be hoped that this obsession is peculiar to you. In fact.......I think I detect a new theme for a future Sepia Saturday prompt. It could easily match Kat's 'photobombiong'!

  3. I hate to see wires crossing in front of the main subject or poles growing out of heads etc. I always try to avoid them when I photograph something.

  4. A very enjoyable post.

    When we visited Netherlands, it took me some time to realise why I was enjoying the country landscape so much. No poles or fences!

    The electricity supply must have been buried and there were canals used rather than fences.

  5. We took a "poll" in our office and all (2) of us liked your post.
    A really fun and informative one.

  6. That goes for me too (I was part of the poll). I loved your last photo. That was the perfect end to a perfect post.

  7. Gotta love someone who has tags of "wire" & telegraph --- and who has such a delightful array of photos so tagged. Bravo!

  8. Poles (the useful utility kind) and wires are the bane of modern photographers. Here in America overhead lines are everywhere except in communities that have developed enough sensitivity to properly bury them.

  9. Just love where you took us - right up the pole. I don't mind old poles, it's the ones that get in my pictures that I object to.

  10. As always a great post (or pole)!!!

  11. This was fun! The poles took us to so many places and circumstances. I wonder if I have an immunity to OPDD, or if I'll be suffering the symptoms soon.

  12. Fantastic post, never new simple poles could generate so much interest and fun. The last picture is hilarious! I liked it very much.

  13. Really enjoyed this post Nigel. And I never even noticed the pole in the theme photo!

  14. Really enjoyede your post - as usual. Have to say that I was a bit puzzled as to the theme until I belatedly realised there was a pole in the theme pic.

  15. I've had my fair share of telegraphitis, but I'm thankful that I'm not as badly afflicted as you obviously are, so no doubt you'll find a few offensive photographs in my post this week - or should that read, "offensive posts in my photographs"?