Overhead Wiring

In the early days of  the telephone all cabling, once it had left the subscribers premises, went overhead to the exchange.  Originally this would have gone straight back to the exchange but as telephone numbers grew, so did the number of wires.  Each line consisted of two wires and these were run to poles and tied to insulators.

The wires became a spiders nest on top of the exchange buildings and was unsightly.  So the wiring from the exchange to a local or distant distribution point went underground.  Helped by technology the wires were reduced in size and underground cables became cheaper and more reliable.

Today the overhead distribution is fed from a local pole to a building.  Pole routes are a thing of the past in most places, but where the route is long it may still be cost beneficial to run the wires overhead.  Open copper/cadmium wires are no longer used as a twin wire cable called dropwire took over.

Smallish wire derrick on the roof of the Exchange

Large wire derrick on the roof of Avenue Exchange 1907

Another wire derrick - what a mess!

Pole top distribution - probably dated early 1960's as this pole is well loaded
as the subscriber base rose significantly.
Note that each customer is fed by two open wires.
The pole is finished at the top with an aluminium finial

Possibly mid 1960's with the older style ring but with new type drop wire


The above is two core overhead cable - called Dropwire.  No.1 and No. 2 were
the original Dropwire, which were superseded by No. 3 and No. 4.

Dropwire was supported by clamps.  The curly No. 3 is all you will see today.

Ring type distribution on a pole that once had wooden arms (note cut outs in pole).
Points to note is the bass bag for holding tools, leather pole safety belt

Late 1960's ring type pole distribution with drop wire radiating.
Points to note is the use of the man made pole belt and use of safety
hat instead of flat cap!




BACK Home page BT/GPO Telephones Search the Site Glossary of Telecom Terminology Quick Find All Telephone Systems

Last revised: January 20, 2020