Thursday 20 October 2011

The Joy of Pylons

One of the incidental pleasures of hurtling through France on a TGV is the sight of all those fine pylons marching past. They are so various, so charming, so French, so unlike our own unvarying, sternly utilitarian pylons. The French style in the picture, with its suggestion of a feline or Flookish face sweetly snoozing, is a favourite, and it's often complemented by a much more masculine, broad-shouldered model, suggestive of a muscle-man holding weights in either hand. No such fun with our British pylons - but now, it seems, we're going to get some new designs. A competition has been under way, and the winning entry, a Danish design, is really rather elegant - an army of those marching across the landscape would not offend the eye. However, I don't like the look of the Totem design that is also under consideration - it smacks of the notorious perforated Olympic torch...


  1. A little unfair on the British pylon, surely? More varieties than one would imagine - and some of them rather playful. This person here is an enthusiast:

    One might not have expected this, but Flash Bristow is a she.

  2. That is indeed surprising, Mary!

  3. French pylons are quite cool Nige, favourites..around Rheims, still the sixties stuff, sort of Graham Sutherland meets Antony Gormley. The oscar however must go to the old, original Telepherique pylons from Les Houches to the Aiguille du Midi, built in the 1920s and abandoned, it was pulling the mountain peak out of its socket. Pure art decor with a touch of rust, the cable car still in situ, is pure Rauschenberg.
    Since you ask, the new jobbie runs from Chamonix centre to the Midi, white knuckles and rolling eyeballs are the order of the day among the tourists attempting the hair raising journey.

  4. Since your picture is full of them, I thought it worth mentioning that the wires' curve between pylons is called a catenary.