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British electricity pylons

Contents

Overview

Although there has been considerable interest over the years in high voltage electricity infrastructure, there is little in the way of publicly-available collated data on the subject. The details on the various pylon types is scattered about and difficult to find. These pages are an attempt to address this deficiency by bringing information about UK pylon types into a single location. Due to a shortage of source material (some of which has been lost over the decades) the subject coverage will remain incomplete, but the information on these pages will serve as a good starting point.

The term “pylon” is found in everyday usage, although the industry term is “tower” (transmission tower, lattice tower, steel lattice tower). Lattice refers to the open metal framework, compared to the poles more commonly used with the lowest voltages (especially 11 kV, 33 kV and the “trident” 132 kV poles). 33 kV, 66 kV and 132 kV can all be found on both wood poles and lattice towers, and 132 kV also uses metal poles in some areas.

Scope

These pages do not cover all British pylon types, nor will they ever. Most depicted types are 132 kV, 275 kV or 400 kV. Coverage of 275 kV and 400 kV types is extensive albeit incomplete. Most 132 kV types are now covered to varying degrees. For the most part, inclusion of 33 kV and 66 kV types is pending some way to refer to them in a practical manner, although types exist for which drawings have not yet been recovered. T-pylons are not covered here.

Guide

See the guide page for some helpful information regarding identifying the various tower types.

Diagram line style key
Solid line Solid lines indicate elements that have been taken from diagrams on official charts. The line thickness is always 1 pixel regardless of the size of the steel bar.
Solid line Thin lines indicate elements at the rear of the tower, such as zig-zag bracing on Eve and BICC L6 peaks and crossarms that are different from front to back.
Dashed line Medium dashed lines indicate optional components such as crossarm extensions and outriggers. This is an official convention in industry drawings.
Dashed line Short dashed lines indicate bracing members that are not always present due to variations in design and amendments to towers.
Dotted line Dotted lines indicate approximations, typically diagrams derived from photographs. This is done when no diagram is available or the diagram is incomplete or inaccurate.
Broken dotted line Broken dotted lines indicate optional components within approximated diagrams.

Series

See the pylon series page for an overview to UK pylon series, starting with recognition diagrams of many of the common types. See the unidentified types page for those types not assigned a designation. See the schemes page for known schemes.

See also the pylon comparison page for help identifying tower series and the organisations page for virtually no information on some organisations.

Technical information

This site is intended more as a “spotter’s guide” to pylons, but nonetheless the following pages covers some of the technical aspects of pylons and power lines in the UK:

Other

Questions

See the questions page for outstanding questions in need of answers.

Further reading

Conventions

For the sake of consistency, certain conventions are applied to the material on these pages.

Tower diagrams

The tower diagrams on this site are based on a variety of source material. The source material takes a variety of forms from simple wire mesh diagrams (as used on this site) through to detailed erection diagrams. Since it is not possible to obtain detailed plans of every tower type, and because a significant number of source diagrams are simple wire meshes, all diagrams presented here are in simple wire mesh form. Wire mesh outlines do contain a number of simplifications; in particular, bracing members tend to be shown meeting at single points where in reality they may not do so.

Many suspension tower source diagrams omit insulators. Where included in the source material, insulator strings are drawn as simple rectangles per industry convention. These rectangles are drawn according to the length of the insulator string as shown in the source material, even if this would appear erroneous. Where the source material does not include the insulator strings, a guess is taken according photographs, and the insulator string position and size is suggested using a dashed outline. Insulators are not shown for tension towers.

Chirality

Some towers (especially SEE PL1(a) single circuit) are flipped horizontally for consistency with respect the official drawings, to make recognition easier. In practice it appears that some lines no longer follow the correct practice of front/rear face anyway (when looking along the line towards higher-numbered towers, the front face of the tower is facing you).

Nomenclature

Industry nomenclature has changed in accordance with changes to British practice. For example, a “Mrs Smith” might now work at the “BBC”, while previously a “Mrs. Smith” would have worked at the “B.B.C.” The Tower Bible goes the other way and uses extraneous punctuation for no reason at all. For example, the Blaw Knox standard tower is given as “D.2.° TOWER.” with extraneous dots. (The dot in “2.°” is written under the degrees symbol.) Conventionally, deviation angles were written with the degrees symbol, but this has since been dropped. What was once written “D.30°” or “D.T.” is now simply “D30” or “DT”.

This site follows current practice entirely, regardless of the design age of any tower type.

All photographs are original material and are released to the public domain, unless otherwise stated. All diagrams on the site are also original work, even where the source material was already in vector form. Copyright status for tower plans is unclear, but no additional copyright is placed on the diagrams: all diagrams are released into the public domain, subject to any existing restrictions according to the source material that may prevent this. Diagrams may be used freely without restriction at your own risk.

Sources

See the sources page for details of and links to the various source material used by this site.

Acknowledgements

The following people all helped to make this endeavour possible:

Finally, posthumous thanks go to the late Flash Bristow, founder of the Pylon Appreciation Society, who brought pylon lovers together. She sadly passed away before I came onto the scene.