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.