From the ‘not on your life’ department…

I’ve noted here before that I have immense respect for anyone able to work at heights. Be they steeplejacks, crane drivers, steel erectors, abseiling window cleaners or transmission line engineers, I always take care to look out for those fearless people who work above with grace, surefootedness and confidence.

While out cycling yesterday, my attention was snagged by the sound of a ratchet operating above me. Just at the bottom of Little Aston Road, at Mill Green, Electricity Alliance engineers were working high up in the latticework of a nearby high tension pylon, replacing insulators and reconditioning the line. This particular section of the Supergrid runs between distribution compounds at Ray Hall, in Great Barr and Drakelow, just south of Burton. Undertaking the work required must be a huge enterprise.

I’d been aware that operations were ongoing on this 400KV route for some weeks; ground-based evidence – in the form of ‘Site Entrance’ warning signs – had been pooping up at field gates and back lanes for some time, and I’d only actually seen the technicians in action a few times, usually when without my camera. The week before I’d achieved a grainy, long distance shot of workers travelling beneath the cords in cradles, near Whittington, but this time I had a decent camera and good light.

It’s worth clicking on the images and viewing them full size; the arrangements of hawsers, straps, earthing bonds, winches and harnesses is fascinating and complex. The grace and confidence with which these (apparently Welsh) engineers work is breathtaking and awe inspiring.

We don’t often stop and think about the heavy engineering that goes into powering our daily lives, but thanks to fearless, dedicated and skilled people like these, we rarely have to. Spare a thought for them next time you boil the kettle.

These men are working replacing insulators on high voltage lines running across South Staffordshire. Long-range photo taken from Little Aston Road, Mill Green, 2:52pm, Sunday 15th August 2010.
This image shows the same pylon from the same position, but zoomed out. Those guys really do show no fear. 2:53pm, Sunday 15th August 2010.
Further along the transmission line, a temporary platform is suspended under the insulators of another pylon, ready for their exchange. Click on the image and zoom in to see just how complex this arrangement is, including the ladder to access the drop jumper beneath. Picture taken from Hobs Hole Lane, Mill Green, 2:58pm, Sunday, 15th August 2010.
Spotted a week previously, this very long range photo was taken from Darnford Lane, between Whittington and Lichfield. Despite the poor quality, it's possible to see two engineers traversing between towers in cradles suspended from the cables. A third is climbing the steelwork of the pylon. 4:14pm, Sunday, 8th August 2010.

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3 Comments

  1. TRIBUTE TO LICHFIELD TRANSMITTER MAST « Tamworth Time Hikes  August 17, 2010

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  2. Just hangin’ around « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  July 19, 2011

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  3. The parachutist, the helicopter and the Brownhills daredevil | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  March 14, 2014

    […] There must be someone out there who recalls this remarkable and horrifying incident. Chris, who has connections in Aldridge, would particularly like to know where it happened; we both agree that in the fields near Mill Green, Little Aston seems likely. […]

     

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